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GreatCall Touch3 Simple and Easy to Use Senior Cell Phone with 1-Touch Medical Alert SOS Button, Large Display
GreatCall Touch3 Simple and Easy to Use Senior Cell Phone with 1-Touch Medical Alert SOS Button, Large Display
Price: $149.00
3 used & new from $119.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great phone, great services, questionable plan offerings., December 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Going by the phone's model number, what we have here seems to be a modified Samsung Galaxy Ace Style phone on the GreatCall plan. Their specific version of the phone is called the Touch3. So what do you get with this phone and plan? Let's go over it:

► Samsung Galaxy Ace Style
* Android 4.4 (KitKat)
* 1500 mAh battery
* Dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU
* 4" screen (480x800)
* Bluetooth 4.0
* Micro USB charging/connection
* Haptic feedback (vibration) and gyroscope
* Micro SD card slot (supports up to 64GB)
* Samsung TouchWiz interface AND GreatCall launcher both installed
* Supports Google Play Services, including the Play Store. Also works fine with Amazon App Store (separate download).
* This version does NOT have the NFC option, unlike a stock Galaxy Ace Style.

This is a spiffy phone. I was impressed by the GreatCall interface, which is as simple and versatile as they describe, but I was more impressed with the simple settings that allowed you to switch to the regular Samsung TouchWiz interface if you feel you're capable of handling the regular Android interface. This means this phone is capable of functioning like any other Galaxy Ace Style right out of the box. It's not crippled in any way. I like that.

The screen is quite nice, and the phone is thankfully not loaded with a ton of bloatware so you have plenty of space for most of the basic apps. There's room to grow, here. The SD card slot helps in that regard, too. The touch interface is snappy. The dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU makes for smooth sailing most of the time.

So the bottom line is that this is a good Android phone that can be as easy or complex as you require. It really is a great design, and I deeply appreciate that GreatCall didn't cripple the phone by baking in their GUI or a ton of unneeded apps. You do get some very handy apps like 5Star, Link, MedCoach, and UrgentCare.

5Star is like a life-alert sort of service, and will cost you fifteen bucks per month. Tap the icon and you get emergency help. For those who need access to such a service, this is a nice way to integrate it into your phone and eliminate the need for a separate device, unless it's included in the plan you choose.

Link connects you with friends and family who can monitor your status. If you send an emergency call, they'll know and can respond without you needing to call them separately. It also allows them (or you) to locate the phone on a map. This service appears to be free.

MedCoach is a fancy medication and vitamin reminder. Basically it will remind you to take your pills on whatever schedule you assign. It also allows for easy connection to your pharmacy to refill prescriptions. This service seems to be free.

UrgentCare is medical research app that also gives you 24/7 access to live medical information and advice. This service will cost you about four bucks per month, unless it's included in the plan you choose.

►THE PLANS
So while these apps and services are nice, the area where I find a small stumbling block is in the GreatCall plans. They don't have an all-inclusive plan, but instead require you to buy plans piecemeal. Data is sold separately in various packages, which bumps up the price. All told, if you sign up for service similar to other prepaid plans (unlimited talk/text and about 500 MB of data) you'll be spending a lot more than the competing national plans.

Yes, you can get lower-priced plans, but these plans have limited talk minutes and still don't come with the data plan.

The graphic on the sale page shows an "Unlimited" plan for just under seventy bucks. This includes unlimited talk and text, as well as all the GreatCall services. This does not include data. Adding 500 MB of data to this unlimited plan is an additional fifteen dollars per month. That brings the total to eighty-four dollars and ninety-nine cents.. for the same thing as the Verizon basic prepaid plan that costs forty-five dollars per month, on the exact same cell towers.

The pricing being so much higher than the competition doesn't sit well with me. This is where they lose me. It's hard to recommend a plan that's about forty dollars more per month for most of the same plan features on the same cell towers. That's forty bucks per month you're paying for those GreatCall medical services.

► FINAL THOUGHTS
The GreatCall Touch3 is an excellent KitKat smart phone that is sadly hindered by an oppressive and overly-complicated cell phone plan. I realize most of the target audience won't be going for unlimited talk/text and probably won't need 500 MB of data, and thus they'll be able to get their pricing down as low as fifteen bucks, but bear in mind this low pricing grants the user only fifty minutes of talk time, no texting, no additional services, and no data. If you add texts and data, you're back up near that forty-five bucks offered by the competition for unlimited talk/text. I just can't get over the nickel-and-diming they do on these plans. It's rough.

So my final rating is a grand total of 3 stars, which is "average" in my book. This is considering five stars for the phone and five stars for the GreatCall medical services, but minus two stars for the high pricing and complicated pricing plans. There IS a lot to like here; It's just that it comes with a lot of caveats.

Suggestions? Get it if you're looking for a good Samsung Galaxy phone. Get it if you need those GreatCall medical services. Get it if you want a smart phone with a simple interface. Just understand that those services and this nice easy-to-use interface come at a higher monthly price when compared to competitors. If you can accept that, this really is a fantastic phone.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2014 10:52 AM PST


Verbatim Wireless Notebook Multi-Trac Blue LED Mouse, Tattoo Series, Phoenix 98613
Verbatim Wireless Notebook Multi-Trac Blue LED Mouse, Tattoo Series, Phoenix 98613
Price: Click here to see our price
14 used & new from $16.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quality mouse with Windows 8 in mind., December 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While I can't say I'm the biggest fan of standard tattoo art (phoenix, dragon, etc.) I can say this is an attractive mouse that has some nice features.

The blue LED does indeed work on most surfaces, and it's very smooth. I actually had to turn down my mouse sensitivity in my control panel because it was so much more sensitive than my other red-LED mouse. The buttons are exceptional, and I am VERY pleased with the wheel and middle-click function. So many mouse manufacturers cheap out on the wheel, but this wheel is thicker, rolls smoothly but with a satisfying clicky feedback (unlike the MS mice, which almost all roll without feedback), and the wheel stays solidly in place when you click the middle button, meaning less frequent slips on the screen.

The side buttons are pre-programmed to open the Charms Bar and Apps Bar in Windows 8. They do the job, though I can't say I ever actually use the Charms or Apps bars (I stay in the desktop 99% of the time). Looking at Verbatim's website did not provide any software that I could use to change the function of these buttons, so in my case they will likely be ignored most of the time. It's a pity, because I could have used them as Page Up/Page Down buttons and gotten so much more use out of them.

The feel of the mouse is quality. It's smooth and doesn't make squeaky plastic noises like cheaper mice. The bottom glides on my wood desktop as if on little roller balls, but it's just four smooth pads on the bottom doing the job.

There's an on/off switch for those of you who like to turn off all your stuff (I don't get it. The thing will go to sleep. Leave your stuff on, these days!) or for those who need to travel with it (in this case, do turn it off to save battery when it gets bumped in transit). There's a pairing button, but I didn't need it to connect to the included dongle.

All in all, this is a nice mouse that will probably become my go-to Human Interface Device for the foreseeable future. The only negative I'm seeing is that I'm losing a USB port, since my previous mouse shared a dongle with my wireless keyboard.

Four Stars. I'd give it five if the side buttons were programmable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2014 10:46 AM PST


T.S. Shure Wooden Magnetic World Map Puzzle
T.S. Shure Wooden Magnetic World Map Puzzle
Price: $49.11
3 used & new from $48.66

4.0 out of 5 stars A big wooden puzzle that would be at home in a classrooom., December 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well, this was certainly a bit bigger than I expected, but it's pretty cool. The pieces are magnetic, the board is solid, and the colors are bright and vivid. I like that it has illustrations all over the map, making it a truly interesting and fun map of the world instead of just another boring globe or cartograph. It even has a built-in string for hanging it up.

I could see this being an excellent addition to a kid's room or classroom, and perhaps some adults might enjoy it, too. It is skewed to appeal to the younger crowd, I think, but there's nothing inherently "kiddie" about it.

All told, this is a quality wooden puzzle that happens to make a fairly detailed world map. Well worth having if you're looking for something to aid in your geographical knowledge, or just to have some fun.


Moen 4500  Wynford One-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet, Chrome
Moen 4500 Wynford One-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet, Chrome
Offered by Buildcom
Price: $154.70

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Moen and it shows. Very nice faucet!, December 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What is there to say? This is a Moen faucet, and as expected that means it's the quality I expected from the Moen name. The faucet itself is quite nice looking (ooh! shiny!) and the components included are relatively easy to work with if you're at all handy. The motion of the handle is so fluid and smooth, too! I really love this faucet's design and the feel of it.

I can highly recommend the Moen 4500, or pretty much any Moen product. So far, I haven't been disappointed by Moen's attention to details and overall quality. Five stars all the way.


Moen S3945C Traditional Deck Mounted Soap Dispenser, Chrome
Moen S3945C Traditional Deck Mounted Soap Dispenser, Chrome
Price: $95.25
6 used & new from $64.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to install, elegant to behold, November 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well, this was easier than I pictured... And I was picturing it being pretty easy! Honestly, all you do is stick it through a cut-out in your sink, tighten a mounting nut, and screw in the bottle beneath. It looks great, holds a LOT of soap, and works simply enough. Being a Moen, it's built with quality in mind and yes, it's a real chromed metal dispenser and not a plastic dispenser that has been painted silver.

Now my only problem is that my soap dispenser looks better than my actual kitchen sink fixtures!

There's not much more to say. I expected quality, and I got it. Five stars all the way.


PhysiciansCare 90423 Handheld Portable Crank Radio with Flashlight
PhysiciansCare 90423 Handheld Portable Crank Radio with Flashlight
Offered by Beach Audio
Price: $36.14
4 used & new from $29.19

4.0 out of 5 stars The radio and torch solution for when the zombie apocalypse comes, November 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
OK, so maybe this will be more useful to campers and people stuck in a blackout because of a bad storm, but what it comes down to is that this handheld portable crank radio from PhysiciansCare is pretty handy when you don't have power and you lack batteries. It's worth owning.

The crank is easy to use. The instructions say to keep a steady but relatively fast rhythm to maintain optimum battery life, and that's not hard to do with the way this is built. When not in use, the crank folds in neatly and stays out of the way.

The radio is just as you'd expect: An AM/FM radio with a tuner and a volume knob. It sounds fine for a device with a small mono speaker. This isn't meant to replace your boombox, after all.

There's a power-out jack, too, so you can use the built-in, crankable battery to power some other device, providing you have the cord to plug into this power port.

The torch (aka "flashlight", for we strange Americans) is not the brightest thing you'll ever see, but it should be a welcome light in the dark when the power's out, and knowing it won't die because you can crank some power into it makes it a useful tool to have around.

When you look at this device in that way-- as a tool, rather than a recreational device-- it's a great package and a good idea.

The one complaint I have, and the reason for the loss of one star in the review, is the requirement (or request, perhaps) to crank the device for one minute every month to prevent the battery from going flat. Let's be honest: Most people aren't going to remember to go into their kit and pull this thing out to crank it for a minute every month. I feel like I'd need to put it on my schedule in order to preserve the battery life, and that's inconvenient. This may be a limitation of the technology, but it's not something they advertise on the box, either. You don't find out about your monthly commitment to this device until you read through the little paper manual.

If you can accept that monthly responsibility, then this is a cool gadget to have. I consider it worth owning. Now I'll be able to see at night when the zombies take over the world... Or at least find my candles when we have a big storm and the power gets knocked out.

Four stars. A solid tool for your camping/emergency kits.


Remington Products Lithium Powered Rotary Shaver, Get Into The Swing, XR1340GOLF
Remington Products Lithium Powered Rotary Shaver, Get Into The Swing, XR1340GOLF
Price: $142.99
2 used & new from $142.99

5.0 out of 5 stars So this is what a $200 cordless shaver looks like..., November 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First off, despite the name of the product above, I got the "Road Warror" model and not the "Get Into The Swing" model, and I'm glad for that, because the Road Warrior has a nice fire design instead of the golf ball dimples. It looks better to me. Otherwise, they seem to be identical.

I must say this is a nice electric shaver. Very nice. The pivoting heads conform to my face's shape a lot better than other shavers. It holds a heck of a charge. It does a great job shaving my tough whiskers. The charge base is small but works well (and being small is good. It even folds up for travel!)

For me, this shaver works better wet than dry, because dry did give me mild razor burn, but your mileage may vary. Some people are better with totally dry shaving than I am. The cool thing is that this handles wet shaving just fine.

The travel bag is actually a bit cheap, considering the cost of the kit. For this price I'd have expected faux leather or something, but it's a typical canvas/nylon bag, the same as in their lower-cost shavers. I won't consider it a knock against the whole package, but it's definitely a little disappointing considering the shaver is touted as a travel model. Still, I don't travel enough to need a high-quality bag for my shaver, so I suppose it's no big deal to me.

The three-month magazine offer is also in this fancy box, and I consider that a nice bonus, but again-- considering the price of the package I think three months of magazines is a little on the cheap side. Six would have been more impressive. A year would have been generous. Three months is just an obvious "check out our synergy" advertisement for the Next Issue service. It's a sample, but not what I'd call a real "gift". It's an OK service if you're into magazines, but as I haven't actually purchased or read a magazine since the 90s, I'm not really all that interested in what they're offering. Anything you find in magazines can be found online for free these days, so I've lost interest in that particular form of media. Again, you may be a magazine fan, and in that case you can enjoy three months' subscription for free. That's not a bad thing by any means.

FINAL VERDICT
The Remington "Road Warrior" Rotary Shaver package is an excellent-quality shaver with some nice-but-middling pack-in items. Buy it for the shaver, and the travel adapter/charger stand and you'll be very happy with Remington's quality. Just consider everything else in the box to be nice little extras that aren't the main event.

Five stars based solely on the quality of the shaver and charging stand. Highly recommended for the man who wants a decent shave with a little style.


Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Android TV BOX Amlogic S802 Quad Core Smart TV Set-top Box Mini PC Stream Media Player 2G / 8G BT 2.4G Wifi XBMC Blu-Ray (Elite Version (2G+8G))
Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite Android TV BOX Amlogic S802 Quad Core Smart TV Set-top Box Mini PC Stream Media Player 2G / 8G BT 2.4G Wifi XBMC Blu-Ray (Elite Version (2G+8G))
Offered by GeekBuying
Price: $89.99
2 used & new from $89.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An awesome Android set-top box, but not meant for non-technical people., November 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Vega S89 Elite is a great choice for a HTPC setup. I currently have three hard drives connected to it, and it runs XBMC and various emulators quite well. Of course, I did some tweaking to make it fit my needs, but the point is that the S89 encourages such tweaking, while other big-name Android boxes do not.

Of course, when using Android on a TV (or in my case, a projector) you run into some issues with some apps. The Amazon App Store and Google Play Store both do not play nice with standard remote input and require you to use the mouse function (they're geared toward touch input). Some apps have "swipe" or "drag" functions that are impossible to duplicate with the remote's mouse mode. The best solution is to connect a wireless or Bluetooth mouse, or to get a decent air mouse.

I've connected several controllers to the Vega S89 with varying degrees of success:
► Amazon Fire TV controller: Surprisingly excellent with most emulators and XBMC!
► Mad Catz C.T.R.L.r: Works, but triggers only work in PC mode, and then A & B buttons are reversed.
► Steel Series Free Mobile: Works fine, but has fewer buttons than others, so you're missing some in some emulators.
► MOGA Power A: Works, but needs either MOGA support from apps or a third-party app to make it accessible. Limited controls.
► Xbox 360 wireless dongle for PC: Does not work. Does weird things. S89 Elite didn't seem to like it at all.
► PS3 controllers: Couldn't get them to pair successfully. Gave up.
► Giotek SC-1: With the dongle installed, it does work but all the buttons are mismatched and some don't work for some apps.

I have yet to try a wired Xbox 360 controller. Mainly because I don't like wired controllers very much anymore.

I also put Finless ROM on the Vega S89 because the stock ROM was lacking in a few areas. While I don't like Finless's loading screen, I do like that it's rooted, makes app stores think the S89 is a Nexus 10 (which magically makes it compatible with a lot more apps!) and gives a bit more versatility when it comes to the launcher... Which, by the way, I also swapped out. Currently I'm using Nova launcher, but I can also recommend one called TVLauncher which gives you great big Metro-style panels. I find that Nova is better for my needs because you can always make the icons big and edit the home page however you wish.

I was also happy to find that the Vega S89 gets along well with my Logitech Harmony Smart Control Simple Remote. Every button was programmable and the IR sensor picks up signals from my Harmony Hub without a problem. I have yet to mess with using the Harmony app touch-screen controls to act as a touch/mouse, but I'll get around to it some day. My only programming problem was that I had to edit the on/off behavior with a delay, a press of "down", another delay, and then a press of "OK" to make it turn the S89 off properly, thanks to the S89's pop-up menu that asks if you want to suspend or shut off. It's a credit to Logitech that they allow this kind of programming for their remotes.

I don't have a 4k/UHD TV or projector (yet) but the 4k app seems to work. I can say that every video I've thrown at this box has worked flawlessly. Everything from my 1080p MKVs with DTS pass-through, to Webm and Flash videos have worked brilliantly.

The S89 can read my NTFS-formatted hard drive with no problems. In the tests I've run I've been able to copy, move, and delete files on my NTFS drive, too. Your mileage may vary.

I had some issues with my USB hub and powering two portable hard drives on a single hub, but that was solved by using a desktop external powered drive on the hub along with a non-powered portable drive, and then putting the other portable drive on the S89's other USB port. The power from the powered drive seems to take the burden off the S89's USB port power output.

Plex Media Server works GREAT on the S89. Just make sure you configure it (in Plex's Settings) for TV instead of tablet. It's the same interface I was used to on my Amazon Fire TV, and it works BETTER than the one on the Fire TV (it seems to have no problem with audio in any of my files, unlike the Fire TV which balks at complex audio tracks in Plex).

I did try Kodi (Man, do I hate that name change!) and while it worked fine, it's still in beta and not supporting as many add-ons as XBMC Gotham. If you go with the Finless ROM, you're better off just using the XBMC that is included with that, as it's the same as the one on the stock ROM... At least until Kodi is ready to go for real.

The current version of Netflix for Android works well, but it does NOT play nice with the standard remote control, and will require mouse mode or an actual mouse/air mouse for decent interaction with their current GUI. Netflix is just not aiming their Android Netflix GUI at set-top boxes right now. Hopefully they get wise and change things a bit in the future.

Amazon Video Player for Prime works, but again, requires mouse input (and the Amazon app) to work properly.

Gaming is great. Most emulators run without much problem, and after installing Gamesome Front End and configuring it, I have access to everything from my main screen without needing to paste icons for every emulator on the main page.

Unfortunately, Hulu runs like any other Android device and demands you install Hulu Plus. Since I stopped paying for Hulu (too many ads) I can't give any opinion on Hulu Plus on the S89 at this time. There are plenty of XBMC plug-ins and network websites to take care of the TV shows I watch. Hulu is missing out by blocking standard Hulu access on Android devices.

Finally, a word about design: While I thought the round puck-shaped design was cool at first, I now find it a bit annoying. I causes the cables in back to "fan out" rather than collecting in a nice bundle in the back. As a result of this, I believe the Vega S89 takes up more space than it would if it were a simple cube or box. The rounded shape in back doesn't do any favors for cable management.

The included remote is surprisingly capable and sturdy, though I rarely use it.

I have had the rare, occasional hang-up or restart with this device, but I think most of that comes down to the behavior of individual apps. Still, when judging this as a set-top box compared to other set-top boxes, that's a negative and I'll dock a star from the review because this definitely means it's not for the layman or newbie. You're not going to set this up for your technophobe grandma and have her feel 100% confident with it, like she might with a Roku or Amazon Fire TV. There's a learning curve and occasional troubleshooting, but they're minor for anyone used to working with Android, XBMC, or home theater setups.

Final Verdict: One of the best set-top boxes on the market IF you're tech savvy and have time to tweak and set up to fit your needs. NOT for those looking for a simple media box, but it delivers way more features and app support if you can invest the effort into getting it all set up right.


First Alert PA100 Personal Security Alarm with Flashlight
First Alert PA100 Personal Security Alarm with Flashlight
Price: $22.02
28 used & new from $19.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An alarm for your stuff, not for yourself., November 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let's get right to it:

PROS:

► Fairly loud alarm.
► Delay alarm function works well.
► LED light is sufficiently bright.
► Easy to operate; Time-delay to attach without alarm sounding is a nice touch.
► Comes with lanyard and replaceable battery.
► Lightweight design.
► Hand-shaped design is easy to hold.

CONS
► Plastic feels very cheap; I'm not sure how durable this might be over time.
► Lanyard isn't very long and it doesn't come with a carabiner to clip it onto bags, etc.
► Alarm, though fairly loud, isn't particularly intimidating or distressing. It sounds kind of like a Halloween spooky noise toy to me.

FINAL VERDICT
While certainly capable of working as described, I can't imagine this being much of a deterrent to an assailant. Switching off the alarm is a simple as pressing a button, and the alarm itself doesn't really cause discomfort or draw much attention despite its volume. In a world where there are loud electronic noises everywhere, this just sort of blends in and sounds like a particularly annoying video game or toy. The LED light is handy, but nothing you can't get for a couple bucks these days.

The various settings for timed alarms and motion sensitivity make this a better door-alarm for apartments or offices than a personal security device for a jogger. I could also see it being useful to place on your bag or belongings in a locker room, office cloakroom, or other public place where ne'er-do-wells might try to rifle through your stuff.

However, I could see the average mugger laughing at this thing. It's just not intimidating, and it's easy to quiet it and go on with the mugging or assault without drawing much (or any) attention. There are better and louder alarms for that, and honestly, I think a canister of pepper spray or mace would be much more useful.

So my final verdict is that this is a great door alarm or alarm for personal belongings, but not the best personal security device for defense against an assailant. It's passable in that regard, but it really seems best used to protect inanimate objects.


Star Wars Villain Multivitamin Gummy, 120 Count
Star Wars Villain Multivitamin Gummy, 120 Count
Price: $10.69
7 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Almost too tasty to be a multivitamin., November 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are very tasty gummi multivitamins. They're almost too good, because they make you want to gobble them like regular gummi snacks! The bottle is huge, too!

I do take issue with the see-through gauge on the side of the bottle, though, that indicates whether the bottle is full, half-full, or nearly gone. According to this gauge, my new bottle of Star Wars Villain Multivitamins was 1/4 gone when it arrived. If they expect some settling to occur in shipping, they shouldn't indicate that "full" is way near the top... Because it isn't.

That said, this seems like a great way to get your vitamin supplement for the day, especially if you're a Star Wars fan.


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