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Reviews Written by
Alan Rivière "Maggie's Dad" RSS Feed (Southwest, USA)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Scotch 414/DC Extreme Mounting Tape, 1 by 60-Inch, Black
Scotch 414/DC Extreme Mounting Tape, 1 by 60-Inch, Black
Price: $7.98
6 used & new from $4.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Works well outdoors, June 30, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This Scotch 414/DC Extreme Mounting Tape works well outdoors. More than a month ago, I used this tape to mount two 7 x 11-inch plastic signs on the exterior of my house, one on a block wall and one on a stucco wall. I lined the entire perimeter of each sign with the tape to afford the signs plenty of holding power. The signs are holding fast so far. The tape stood up to the desert sun and a couple of monsoons with no problem.


Pioneer VSX-90 7.2 Channel A/V Receiver (Black)
Pioneer VSX-90 7.2 Channel A/V Receiver (Black)
Price: $699.98
5 used & new from $570.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Big, heavy, and loaded with features, June 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
BIG, HEAVY, AND LOADED WITH FEATURES

This Pioneer VSX-90 Receiver is big, measuring 17 inches long, 12-3/4 inches deep, and 6-1/2 inches high and takes up the lion's share of shelf space. It is also heavy, weighing about 20 pounds. It takes a strong back to move it around. It is loaded with features. It will take some time for a new user to explore all of them and make all the necessary connections. It can be intimating to an average user like myself.

THE VIDEO

I don't have a home theater. I use the VSX-90 in my game room/home office to connect a Dell computer, a Samsung BD/DVD player, a PS3, a PS4, and a Xbox 360 game console to a Dell 24-inch 1920 X 1200 Ultra Sharp monitor. The VSX 90 comes with 6 HDMI sockets on the back panel and a single HDMI socket in front, which are perfect for connecting my equipment, since they all came with HDMI connections. HDMI carries not only video but audio as well, thus eliminating the need of audio input cables. The VSX-90 supposedly supports 4K2K Ultra HD video, which translates into 4096 x 2160 pixels or 4 times the resolution of the 2048 x 1080 Full HD. Ultra HD is necessary for monitors or HDTVs with screens larger than 55 inches. In my case, Ultra HD is not going to make any difference on my 24-inch monitor.

The VSX-90 is compatible with the newest HDCP 2.2 protocol, which stands for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection. At the VSX-90 back panel, the HDMI sockets labeled BD, DVD, SAT/CBL and HDMI OUT are HDCP 2.2 compliant. HDCP compliance is necessary to play the newest Blu-Ray discs and other protected digital contents.

For connecting a DVD player or other equipment with no HDMI outputs, there are RCA and component video inputs, RCA audio inputs, as well as optical and coaxial digital audio inputs at the VSX-90 back panel.

THE AUDIO

I am currently using a pair of inexpensive bookshelf speakers. With the VSX-90, I might upgrade my sound equipment to a modest 5.1-channel home theater speaker system. For the uninitiated, a 5.1-channel system consists of 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. The VSX-90 supports 5.1, 5.2, 7.1, and 7.2-channel systems with up to 7 speakers and 2 subwoofers. The passive un-powered speakers are connected to the VSX-90 back panel via twisted speaker wires or banana plugs. The powered subwoofers with their own built-in amplifiers are connected to the two subwoofer pre-outs with RCA connectors. The VSX-90 supports 6 to 16-ohm passive speakers, with 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms or 165 watts at 6 ohms. It will not support 4-ohm speakers.

The VSX-90 comes with the newest Dolby ATMOS sound technology. In a commercial setting, Dolby ATMOS accommodates up to 128 audio tracks and the associated pan metadata to simulate 3-dimensional static and dynamic sound. In a commercial cinema equipped with Dolby ATMOS, the sound equipment sends audio signals to various pre-positioned speakers in rapid successions to simulate sound traveling across 3-D space, for example, the roar of a jet whizzing by. To take advantage of the VSX-90 Dolby ATMOS technology in a home environment, the user must deploy Dolby ATMOS enabled speakers, which have the ability to project sound to the ceiling. These speakers are way beyond my means. They are for people in the top pay grades.

iPOD, iPHONE, and HEADPHONE

For those users who own iPods or iPhones, there is an iPod/iPhone terminal at the front panel for audio playback. I connected my iPod Classic G7 to the terminal via the iPod USB cable and it sounded great. There is also a standard phone jack at the front panel for headphone connection.

THE FRONT PANEL CONTROLS AND THE REMOTE

The front panel controls look simple enough. There are two large knobs on the sides, with the left knob for input selection and the right knob for volume control. At the upper center is a digital display. Below are buttons for speaker selection, multi-zone control, tuner control etc. An infrared line-of-sight remote comes with the purchase. It duplicated front panel functions.

OTHER FEATURES

There are other features of the VSX-90 I have yet to explore and am unlikely to use in the near future. The more prominent ones are described below briefly:

(1) Multi-zones--There is the multi-zone option, in which the VSX-90 sends video and audio signals via connecting cables to audio/video equipment in two other rooms. With the multi-zone option, the same source can be played simultaneously in the main zone and the subzones, with certain restrictions. This can be done with different sources as well.

(2) AM & FM antennae--There are connections for an external FM radio antenna and an AM radio loop antenna.

(3) Networking--The VSX-90 can be connected to a home network via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi with dual antennae for extended range.

(4) MCACC Technology--MCACC stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System. This technology is unique to Pioneer sound equipment. A microphone monitors the sound environment of the user's room and an equalizer automatically adjusts the sound parameters. The microphone comes with the purchase and plugs into a 3.5mm socket at the front panel. The exact procedure is described in the manual.

(5) MHL compatibility--MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link. It is a industry standard that enable consumers to connect mobile phones, tablets, and other portable consumer electrons to HDTVs to display 3D/Full-HD videos, HD multi-channel audio and HD photos. There is a HDMI socket at the back panel of the VSX-90 labeled 6 MHL for connection to a mobile device via a MHL cable.

(6) HMDI ARC--ARC stands for Audio Return Channel. Some TVs come with this feature. When the TV is connected to the VSX-90 via a HDMI cable, the audio of the TV can be sent back to the receiver via the connecting HDMI cable through the VSX-90 HDMI OUT 1 terminal. To activate this function, the user must set ARC to ON during HDMI setup at the VSX-90.

(7) Bluetooth and Airplay--These are handy functions for wireless connections to the VSX-90.

(8) Internet radio and music--The VSX-90 is vTune, Pandora, and Spotify ready.

ONLINE MANUAL

A VSX-90 manual in pdf format is available for download. Read it up before ordering:
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/StaticFiles/Manuals/Home/VSX-90_OperatingInstructions032715.pdf

VIDEO AND AUDIO QUALITY

The video quality on my Dell 24-inch Ultra-sharp monitor is superb. The audio sounds good in my inexpensive bookshelf speakers. I cannot say how good the video looks in a 75" Ultra HD TV monitor or how good the audio sounds in a 7.2 channel home theater system. Nor can I comment on the quality of the VSX-90 Dolby ATOMS technology. I don't have the equipment to do so. I have to leave them to other reviewers.


Miele Complete C2 Limited Edition
Miele Complete C2 Limited Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars Small, light, and powerful, June 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Miele Complete C2 vacuum is small and light for a full function vacuum. It measures 19 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 8-1/2 inches tall, weighing about 11 pounds without any attachment.

The purchase includes a metallic telescopic wand, a flexible air hose, and a curved plastic handle in between. The length of the telescopic wand can be adjusted by holding down the release button on the wand and pulling or retracting the extension. There is an air-vent on the wand to temporarily decrease the suction during vacuuming.

The Miele Complete C2 also comes with two large floor brushes. One of them has a rotating brush and is powered by air, not an electric motor, thus making it light and maneuverable. There is an air vent on top of this powered brush, which can be open to improve airflow for deep pile carpet. The other brush is unpowered and has stiff bristles around the perimeter at the bottom. They can be retracted or lowered by a foot switch on top of the floor brush. Retract the bristles for carpets and rugs, and lower them for hard floors.

The power cord assembly has a power-retract feature. The cord assembly automatically locks when the user pulls the cord out and retracts upon a push of the power-retract bar on top the vacuum. Opposite to the power-retract bar is the power ON-OFF bar. A dial switch regulates the speed of the motor, with various settings for curtains, upholstery, deep pile carpets, etc. as indicated by line symbols on top of the vacuum.

The filter compartment can be accessed by lifting a release bar. Besides the usual filter bag, there is an exhaust air filter as well. The manual states that the bag and air filter should last for a year with normal use. On top of the filter compartment is the accessory compartment, with a crevice nozzle, an upholstery nozzle, and a dusting brush.

When the job is done, the brush with the wand attached can be parked at the side of the canister. There are two parking slots, one on each side, which the brush with the wand can latch onto. It is a thoughtful design.

The Miele Complete C2 is powerful at its maximum setting. I can hear the clicking of dirt particles hitting the inside of the metal wand as they are vacuumed up. It is small and light for what it can do. I was especially impressed by the air-powered brush. It is light and much more maneuverable than one powered by an electric motor. I am very pleased with the product.


Tasty Bite Heat and Eat Pouches, Jasmine Rice, 8.8 Ounce (Pack of 6)
Tasty Bite Heat and Eat Pouches, Jasmine Rice, 8.8 Ounce (Pack of 6)
Price: $13.47
16 used & new from $13.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than instant rice, June 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
**This review is on the Tasty Bite Jasmine rice. Amazon is putting reviews of all eleven varieties of Tasty Bite rice together. It can be confusing to shoppers**

This Tasty Bite Jasmine Rice is delicious. It is un-favored. It is almost as good as rice cooked from scratch in a rice-cooker, and much better than "instant rice" prepared by steeping in hot water. In fact, it is even more easily prepared than instant rice - just cut an opening in the pouch for venting and heat the entire pouch for 90 seconds in a microwave oven. The web page states that the purchase comes in a pack of 6 "Heat and Eat Pouches". The order I received had only five 8.8 oz. pouches. So buyers beware.


Plus Guard Your ID Advanced Roller Stamp, Green
Plus Guard Your ID Advanced Roller Stamp, Green
Price: $9.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not for glossy paper or redacting documents, June 20, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This Plus Guard Roller Stamp does the job of hiding your ID by camouflage. The user rolls the stamp on the document, which prints small letters over the characters, thus making them unreadable. The smaller the type the document is in, the more effective the stamp is. For large types, repeated rolling is necessary to cover up the characters.

This stamp works well on absorbent bond paper but fails when used on glossy or coated paper like the address labels on Amazon boxes, contrary to the product description on the web page. The letters on the glossy address label stand out against the thin ink of the stamp. Furthermore, the stamp is about ½ inch wide. It may be too wide for documents with small types, if the user wants to leave the document readable except for an occasional word or sentence. For glossy and coated paper and for the purpose of redacting, I recommend a redacting pen. Click on the product link below:

Permanent Black Marker Blackout Artline Secure Marker Redacting Pen


DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable Oversized Fleur De Lis Jacquard Dishtowel, Set of 3
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable Oversized Fleur De Lis Jacquard Dishtowel, Set of 3
Price: $12.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Attractive but not particularly practical, June 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These Fleur De Lis Jacquard Dishtowels are big for what they are, measuring 18-1/2 x 28 inches. For drying dishes, I prefer a smaller size, just slightly bigger than a dinner plate, for easier handling. Furthermore, they are not particularly good for drying dishes because they are thin and not very absorbent. However, they do have attractive designs and brighten up the kitchen.


UniquExceptional UDC4silver Fake Security Camera with 30 Illuminating LEDs (Silver)
UniquExceptional UDC4silver Fake Security Camera with 30 Illuminating LEDs (Silver)
Offered by UniquExceptional
Price: $10.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Betrayed by its flimsy plastic construction at close inspection, June 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
From a distance, this UDC4 fake camera looks reasonably real, but upon close inspection, it is betrayed by its flimsy plastic construction. Furthermore, the plastic integral mount has very limited movement, making the camera difficult to aim. The title on the web page touts "30 Illuminating LEDs" and the picture shows a circle of red LEDs, but the camera I received on 4/25/15 has only one red blinking light, which makes it look fake. A newer batch may have "30 illuminating LEDs" but I cannot confirm that. Before making this purchase, I urge Amazon shoppers to check out another fake camera, which I purchased at Amazon recently. I think it is a better choice. See the address below:

Swann Dummy ADS-180 Imitation Security Camera


Swann Dummy ADS-180 Imitation Security Camera
Swann Dummy ADS-180 Imitation Security Camera
Offered by Think Fast
Price: $19.45
47 used & new from $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looks real but needs working LEDs, June 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It is hard to tell that this Swann ADS-180 Camera is a fake without prior knowledge or the user connecting it to power and a TV. This is so for one simple reason: this camera is the actual body of a functional ADS-180 camera, minus a real lens and the electronic. Kids looking for trouble on their way home from school wouldn't be able to tell that it is fake. An experienced prowler at night, on the other hand, may realize it because the fake infrared LEDs do not light up.

This dummy ADS-180 camera is made of metal, measuring approximately 3-1/4 inches long and 2-3/8 inches across, excluding the mount. The wires and the two connectors are real. A metallic camera mount comes with the purchase, together with three screws, three plastic anchors, and four 2-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch decals. This Swann Dummy ADS-180 camera will be perfect if the manufacturer would incorporate working low level red LEDs, visible only in the dark, to simulate infrared illumination.


Zwilling J.A. Henckels Nail Clipper
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Nail Clipper
Price: $22.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Looks good and cuts well but a bit pricey, June 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unlike the nail clipper sets bought in discount stores, which are mostly made of chrome plated ferrous metal, this Zwilling J.A. Henckels Nail Clipper appears to be constructed of polished stainless steel. It is small, designed for use with fingernails. It looks good. It is also sharp and makes clean cuts consistently. It comes with a plastic sleeve, which serves as a clipping holder. The clipper slides in and out of the sleeve smoothly. Personally, I prefer to use the clipper without the sleeve. The price at twenty-two dollars for a fingernail clipper is a tad steep. I wish it came down some.


Lipton Iced Black Tea Mix, Lemon 2.43 ounce
Lipton Iced Black Tea Mix, Lemon 2.43 ounce
Price: $9.51

4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious and convenient but a tad costly, May 31, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Lipton Liquid Iced Tea Mix is surprising delicious. The iced tea made from this mix is almost as good as store-bought pre-mixed iced tea of the same brand. It is also convenient. Instead of storing numerous 2-liter bottles in the pantry, one only has to keep one small 2-1/2-oz bottle in the fridge (refrigeration optional). I put four generous squirts of this Lipton Liquid Iced Tea Mix into a chilled 500-milliliter bottle of Kirkland drinking water, and voila, I got iced tea to go. The price at over 9 dollars per 2-1/2-oz bottle is kind of steep. I wish it comes down a little.


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