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2008 Toyota RAV4
2008 Toyota RAV4

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still driving it and love it!, April 5, 2016
This review is from: 2008 Toyota RAV4
I own my 2008 RAV4 V6 for 8 years now, and see no need to replace it at the moment.
A quick impression:
Positives:
- high reliability. So far all issues were fixed by Toyota recalls, and I do not consider this as a mechanical issue;
- great acceleration. It is a little known fact that V6 version is one of the fastest budget cars, not just SUVs. The car engine is very smooth and is pared with transmission almost perfectly;
- very smooth transmission. My other car, 2013 BMW X3 has much more "bumpy" transmission, despite its advanced nature and 8 speeds;
- amazing rear seat room. I found it to be one of the highest among other SUV I checked out, including X3. It's rear seats move and recline- it is a very convenient feature;
- roomy compartment under the trunk cover. I store many items that I do not usually need, but still want to have in the car;
- very roomy inside with folded rear seats. I was able to fit inside a disassembled couch from IKEA;
- well designed and legible instrument cluster. I like it better that that of X3;
- I still like how it looks, despite the car currently being the third generation of RAV4.

Negatives:
- almost non-existent sound proofing. I replaced all door speakers, and found no sound deadening inside the doors. I had to spend many hours to apply layers of Dynamat everywhere I could reach - doors, rear area, tailgate, etc. Only after that car feels much quieter, although not perfect.
- one of the worst radio systems (and I had a Premium radio designed by Eclipse). I replaced it with a JVC head unit with navigation, HD radio, etc, and it is now on par with that of modern cars
- bumpy ride. Feels like chassis would benefit from better tuning. Have to live with it for now.

Overall, a great car for my family. I enjoy driving it even after switching to X3 as my primary car.


RE Audio TW20 1-Inch Soft Dome Tweeters - Set of 2
RE Audio TW20 1-Inch Soft Dome Tweeters - Set of 2
Price: $46.57
7 used & new from $44.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Quality tweeters!, March 16, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I replaced my BMW F25 vehicle stock front door tweeters with these. My goal was to keep the car factory look, so I had to re-use the stock tweeter holder to fit TW20 inside. To my delight, TW20 fit in the holder perfectly (I had to remove the tweeter grill cover for this), so installation in the front door was very easy. Included crossovers are about 1x3" in size, and were easy to glue to the door next to the tweeter.

TW20 tweeters have impressive characteristics on paper - high sensitivity (92dB), usable (after the crossover) frequency range from about 2kHz to 20kHz (one of the highest I have seen), etc. Open weave silk dome was very impressive - it is very thin to a point of being semi-transparent. Such a contrast to the black mesh dome of the stock tweeter!

Now about the sound quality - they immediately improved the stock amplifier sound. Highs are very clear and "transparent"now, and I had to tone down treble a bit to counteract the tweeter high sensitivity. Silk domes are known for their "soft", comfortable sound, and these tweeters deliver the same. Overall, I am very happy with these tweeters, and may install them in place of the stock rear door tweeters as well. The fact that they have the exact size as that of stock tweeters is a very welcome coincidence.

In addition, I had to communicate with a RE Audio representative about learning more info for the tweeters, and the person was very responsive and informative. I am glad that the company provides a good tech support!


WD 4TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBFJK0040HBK-NESN
WD 4TB My Book Desktop External Hard Drive - USB 3.0 - WDBFJK0040HBK-NESN
Price: Click here to see our price
135 used & new from $98.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WD SmartWare does not work properly!, December 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I own several WD Hard Drives and had very good experience using them. I hope hardware of this drive is no exception.

But WD SmartWare (this is the backup software that monitors a computer for a file system change and backs up new and changed files) simply does not work properly on my Win7 machine. It starts initial backup process, and later either slows copy process tremendously (and this is the best case) or stops backup altogether.

I searched dozens of on-line posts about this issue (including WD website forums) only to come to conclusion that this issues goes back as early as 2010, and even the latest software version still does not work, and there is no solution as far as I can see. Looks like this is a common issue for huge number of people. There is no excuse for WD to come up with a non-functional software!

I am debating to either use this drive as a simple external drive for Windows backup, or to return it. I am not going to support a company that does not know how to write a software that works on a well established OS like Win7.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2015 9:24 AM PST


Sankei Shop-2 1/87 Ho Street Corner Scene Series (Mk05-06) Sankei
Sankei Shop-2 1/87 Ho Street Corner Scene Series (Mk05-06) Sankei
Offered by Comtachi Japan. We will deliver as soon as possible.
Price: $43.26
38 used & new from $43.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun to assemble and looks so good!, September 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I enjoyed assembling this kit. It is made of dense cardboard (plus transparent film for windows) and has very intricate details. Laser was used not only to cut each part, it also created very fine groves on several surfaces to create 3D effect. They had to use laser cutting in inert environment, as no part has burn marks - something I have never seen before.

Each part fits just perfectly to form structure without visible seams. Manual is in Japanese, but it has a set of pictures that allowed me to assemble the replica without any issues.

Even though it is a paper structure, it still benefits from application of weathering effects. It would be nice if manufacturer prints the weathering effects on the cardboard surfaces to make an irresistible replica. Also, grey tile roof is just printed on thin paper - it would be great to use 3D laser cutting (as it is done on other surfaces) on it to simulate tile roofing. Or better yet, print individual tile rows on thin paper and laser cut them to allow people to glue the roof row by row - this will make it look life-like (this is done on my other paper model by a different manufacturer).


ACU-RITE Weather Station With Morning Noon & Night Forecasting
ACU-RITE Weather Station With Morning Noon & Night Forecasting
3 used & new from $48.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Works great, but looks different than shown in the description, September 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My 3 stars reflect the item description issue, and not the item functionality.

I had to order this item twice in hope to get the station that looks like one in the description (shiny face plate). Both time I received station entirely made of dark brown plastic - it does not go with any of my interior decors. Because of this I had to send both of them back.

I had a chance to play with the station, and it works amazingly well. I placed the outside sensor on the station, and after some time both station and sensor reading for temperature and humidity were exactly the same - something I have never seen on other manufacturer stations. A minor issue with the viewing angle - it works perfectly for the table stand application, but wall hanging requires placing the station to about chest level to be able to see it clearly. Contrast is not as great as one shown in the picture, but reasonable. Back light is very bright and even, and has a pleasant blue color. Sensor does not have battery compartment seal, so placing it in a well protected area outside is a must to ensure its proper operation.


Bosch 50011316 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotor
Bosch 50011316 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotor
Price: $39.64
9 used & new from $33.56

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality painted brake rotors that match aluminum wheel color., August 18, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was looking for a quality brake rotor that can withstand harsh winters without rusting. Bosch QuietCast part has a durable protective aluminum/zinc coating that covers the entire rotor, inside and outside. The immediate benefit is that rotor will less likely rust into the wheel hub - a common problem for cars driving in the "salt belt".

Prior the installation I washed the rotors with mild soap per manufacturer's website guidance to wash out any manufacturing debris. After installation the rotors exhibited no vibration nor any squeaking noise (I pared them with ACDelco Professional brake pads) even during the brake-in period. The rotors match the color of my car open aluminum wheels and look great with them. It is too early to tell how long the coating will stand, so I will update my review in the future.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 8, 2016 10:19 AM PDT


Black & Decker BC15BD 15 Amp Bench Battery Charger with Engine Start Timer
Black & Decker BC15BD 15 Amp Bench Battery Charger with Engine Start Timer
Price: $49.99
3 used & new from $39.95

66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing car battery charger! (this review is for BC15BD charger)), March 23, 2015
After my disappointment using a different brand car battery charger, I came across this device. I educated myself about car battery charging process using info I could find on-line, and monitored BC15BD charger performance closely.

Here is a quote from batteryequaliser.com website:
" The first step is bulk charging where up to 80% of the battery energy capacity is replaced by the charger at the maximum voltage and current amp rating of the charger. When the battery voltage reaches 14.4 volts this begins the absorption charge step. This is where the voltage is held at a constant 14.4 volts and the current (amps) decline until the battery is 98% charged. Next comes the Float Step, this is a regulated voltage of not more than 13.4 volts and usually less than 1 amp of current. This in time will bring the battery to 100% charged or close to it. The float charge will not boil or heat batteries but will maintain the batteries at 100% readiness and prevent cycling during long term inactivity".

This charger works almost exactly as it is described above, except it gets to 14.7V max voltage during steps 1 and 2. First several minutes it spends "getting to know" battery if it is too discharged, including charge process stopping for several seconds (it beeps at this moment) and reading the resulting voltage, before it resumes the charge process using this data that allows it to estimate initial battery charge. It has an informative display, showing live charge current readings (they allow guessing the particular charging state - dropping current signifies stage 2), estimated battery charge capacity, "hot" and "cold" environment temperature symbols (ideally charger needs to adjust charging parameters for the temperature, hopefully it does use the temperature sensor data for this), and it can display battery voltage once a proper button is pressed.

It also has an alternator check button - this mode worked for me, but I suspect that it just reads the battery voltage with the engine running, and makes sure it is withing the spec (around 14.4V). A simple voltmeter test would do the same. I may be wrong about it and the test does more than that.

Another button allows activating "battery recondition" mode, where it is supposed to help removing sulfate deposits (if any) from the battery plates. I did try running this mode, but can not attest for its performance, as 2 of my car batteries could be easily charged in a normal mode. I checked the battery voltage in this mode and it was about 13.5V - low enough to be safe for the battery. Manual mentioned that it may take up to five 24-hour cycles to "rejuvenate" a failing battery (if by this time battery does not work then it is considered dead) - I will try this if I ever get a discharged battery.

The charger is very solidly built, and has a cooling fan - it is not noisy at all, and it turns off when charging current drops to about 3A - this allows gauging the charging progress without even looking at the device.

It also has a 40A emergency charging mode to help starting car engine - it obviously needs external 120V for this. I have not tried this mode, but it is nice to have it in case car ends up with an empty battery.

My only issue is with the device manufacturing quality. The first charger I got from HD seemed working, except it could not reach the end of the battery charge. Debugging revealed that charger did not read the battery voltage properly during the charge cycle - it was off by more than 1V, lower than the actual voltage. The second charger worked much better - it displayed voltage values accurately to 1/10 of a volt (I used a digital multimeter at the battery posts to verify this). I hope it was just a fluke, but recommend verifying the charger operation one time to make sure it works properly.

Overall - another great device from Black and Decker I really like using!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 14, 2016 11:15 AM PDT


iRobot Roomba 800 Series Battery, Debris Extractor Set, Filter & 3-Arm Side Brush - Kit Includes 1 High Capacity Battery, 2 Debris Extractor Set, 4 Filter & 4 3-Arm Side Brush
iRobot Roomba 800 Series Battery, Debris Extractor Set, Filter & 3-Arm Side Brush - Kit Includes 1 High Capacity Battery, 2 Debris Extractor Set, 4 Filter & 4 3-Arm Side Brush
Offered by Certified Battery
Price: $100.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality Roomba 880 part set, March 19, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I want to comment on quality of the kit parts that I ordered for my Roomba 880:

- 3 arm side brush - has similar dimensions to those of the OEM part; Its arms are somewhat stiff in the beginning, and lead to an increased noise of the cleaner motor. This noise goes away after several cycles after the brush breaks in;
- Debris extractor set - has similar dimension and, more importantly, plastic softness of the OEM set. The latter is important as I read reviews of other manufacturer's extractor set where people complained about extra rigidity of the part plastic leading to excess operation noise. This particular set fits perfectly and exhibits no extra noise during operation as far as I can hear;
- Filter - exact fit and a similar to OEM part design. It has a yellow fabric tab to pull it out, and protective mesh, same as those of the OEM part;
- Battery - fits perfectly; it arrived pre-charged - it took Roomba only about 30 min to top it off. I let Roomba vacuum my house upper floor (about 600 sq. ft), and its battery indicator stayed green after it completed the task. Its old OEM battery would throw an amber battery light by this time (although it is a heavily used original battery).

Overall I am happy with the set, it has quality parts that can be used to optimize my Roomba 880 performance. I will post more feedback on the battery life as I progress with its use.


Schumacher SC-1200A/CA SpeedCharge 2/8/12 Amp Charger/Maintainer/Tester
Schumacher SC-1200A/CA SpeedCharge 2/8/12 Amp Charger/Maintainer/Tester
Price: $45.00
18 used & new from $38.25

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Aggressive" and innacurate charging scheme, March 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had high hopes for this charger - its specs looked good on paper and price is reasonable. But once I got it, I found that it uses too "aggressive" charging algorithm.

For instance, once I plugged it to a Motorcraft battery (it is installed in a car that was just driven for an hour), it starts applying increasingly high voltage - it starts from about 13V, and in several minutes got to almost 16V (I used a multimeter to access the voltage at the battery terminals). The charger display would show 12V - irrespective of the actual voltage, so it does not help at all. In about 30 min the charger illuminated green LED signifying end of the charge, and kept about 16V in this "floating mode".

I used a different charger (B&D BC15BD) on the same "charged" battery afterwards, and it starts with classic "constant current, then top off with decreasing current" charging scheme, and it took about 12 hours (at 15A) to get to the top off stage, where it kept 14.7V at the battery for another hour (with decreasing current) to get to the floating mode. So clearly those 2 chargers take a very different approach to the battery charging - now the question is which one to trust.

To figure this out, I used SC-1200A on a different car battery (Toyota True Start) - it did not want to be charged this fast even at applied 16V, and to my horror I could hear boiling water inside the tray, even after I limited charging current to 3A (!). BC15BD used on the same battery did not exhibit this behavior, but took a long time to top if off.

At this point I decided to give up SC-1200A as it has too "aggressive" (16V is too high according to the many sources I could find on-line) and to my estimate a very inaccurate way to charge a car battery.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2015 2:58 PM PDT


Moen 6903 Voss One-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet, Chrome
Moen 6903 Voss One-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet, Chrome
Price: $183.04
13 used & new from $72.59

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Quality/design do not live to my expectations, February 5, 2015
Before ordering Moen Voss faucet I read numerous reviews about it - all of them were positive. I feel almost guilty to publish a negative review for the same product.

When the faucet arrived, right of the box it had couple of issues - minor imperfections in the chrome finish (scratches and a small area where finish was not even), and non-smooth movement of the control handle - it felt as if cartridge surfaces were slightly grinding against each other. None of those issues were related to the faucet functionality, but I expected a better "quality feel" from a relatively expensive product.

The supplier was nice about those issues, and sent me a replacement faucet and paid for the first faucet return shipment. When I got the second faucet, it looked and felt much better - flawless finish and smooth handle action. But once I installed the faucet and started using it, the faucet body started leaking. It was because of the leaking plastic base inside the faucet (the part where the supply lines attach to). It leaked each time handle opened water flow - probably a leaky seal between the metal body internal channel and the plastic base. It cannot be easily repaired as the plastic base is an integral part of the metal body at this point.

To save the supplier grief of paying 2 extra shipping costs for me to get the third replacement faucet, I decided to use body of the first faucet, and swap cartridges. After the swap (an extremely easy process) and installation, faucet operates properly and does not leak (at least not as of yet). But I was quick to find that the faucet water supply lines start making excessive noise (low frequency rumble that can be heard throughout my house) when the faucet is half open. This noise disappears when it is fully open (and I checked the water supply line valves to be fully open). It is a definite annoyance - none of my house other faucets do this, including a previous faucet that Moen faucet replaced. I need to get used to this behavior, as I still want to keep the faucet because of its size - it is very hard to find a single handle bathroom faucet with good nozzle elevation and extension.

So I give 5 stars for the product look and size - they are just perfect for my bathroom. But the faucet manufacturing quality and internal channel system and aerator design (I blame them as the cause of the water supply line noise) are far from ideal - I subtract 3 stars. I am spoiled by quality/design of Grohe faucets I installed in my house, and expected a similar experience from Moen.

One note about installation - I recommend removing aerator from the faucet (using the supplied plastic tool) before opening water for the first time - water runs murky for the first couple of seconds washing out manufacturing debris (that potentially may clog aerator) from the faucet. Faucet manual does suggest doing this.


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