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Philip R. Heath "Gadgets, Music, & Books" RSS Feed (DFW)
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STRONG & KIND Honey Smoked BBQ, 1.6 oz, 12 Count
STRONG & KIND Honey Smoked BBQ, 1.6 oz, 12 Count
Offered by ShopNaturalHealth
Price: $20.19
11 used & new from $18.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Salty And Spicy Snack!, October 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I’ve been eating different bars from Kind for a number of years, and I was curious when I saw their new “Strong and Kind” line of products. The premise is a higher protein version of what loyal Kind customers have been accustomed to. The flavor of this particular bar is also a little different. Whereas most of their prior products had more of a dessert flavor, these are more of a pure salty snack with a spicy kick. Honey Smoked BBQ tells most of the story, but I’ve already hinted at the rest. This is a spicy BBQ flavor that the ingredients (which include multiple types of peppers) confirm. Here’s my shot at giving you a comparison of the flavor. If you have ever been to Buffalo Wild Wings, the flavor of this bar is close to their Honey BBQ. It is no sickeningly sweet BBQ. It packs a little heat/spice. While they won’t burn your mouth, it may be more than some expect from a product with “honey” in the name. Overall, the flavor is balanced, and it is a fine higher protein product from a brand that I trust. I highly recommend the Strong and Kind Honey Smoked BBQ snack bars.


Dromida Ominus UAV Quadcopter RTF, Yellow
Dromida Ominus UAV Quadcopter RTF, Yellow
Offered by Best Service Stores
Price: $78.22
7 used & new from $78.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Thing Is A Blast!, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Dromida Ominus Quadcopter is my first RC copter; therefore, I will give you the novice perspective. I liked that it comes fully assembled, and it is almost ready to fly. You do have to charge the battery that goes in the Ominus, but that doesn’t take very long - maybe an hour or so.

Once I had everything ready to go, I took the Ominus and the controller out to my driveway/sidewalk. It was easy to pair the controller and the Ominus. I took the instruction sheet out with me so that I had something to refer to while I was getting the hang of the controls. I got the hang of the basics pretty easily, but then I got a little over confident. It is easy for the Ominus to get away from you if you are not experienced. I wound up within 10 feet of the pond in my neighborhood before it went down hard. What happened was I let the Ominus get too high, and I got disoriented with which direction it was facing. Everything I did seemed to send it higher and further away from me. The only reason I still have mine is luck. After I retrieved it, I went back to the driveway, and I was much more conservative with it until the battery ran out. It advertises about 15 minutes, and that’s roughly what I got out of it.

With all that being said, this thing is flat out fun. I still have a long way to go to master all the controls, but it is addictive. I have the battery charging, and I can’t wait to take it out again. That’s right - a grown man acting like a kid again. Your teen may love it, and they might even be a better pilot. However, you only have to be a kid at heart to enjoy the Ominus Quadcopter. It is a great outdoor hobby that I expect to enjoy.


Vega Sport Protein Bar Chocolate Coconut -- 12 Bars
Vega Sport Protein Bar Chocolate Coconut -- 12 Bars

4.0 out of 5 stars Premium Post-Workout Recovery Bar, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had previously tried the Vega Chocolate Cherry Almond meal replacement bars, and I was curious when I saw that they had a separate line of protein bars targeted for workout recovery. This is another Vega product with premium ingredients at a premium price. While there is no price currently on the Amazon product page, the go for $2.50 per bar at my local Whole Foods. That is a pretty steep per unit price, but the difference in ingredients over competitors such as Odwalla and Clif is substantial.

The taste of these is OK. I am not a huge fan of coconut, but the flavor is not very strong compared to the chocolate. There are also not very many pieces of coconut in a bar, and it is nothing like a Mounds candy bar in that regard. While the taste is not my favorite, I don’t mind it. I do like the benefits that it has to offer as a post-workout recovery snack. I also like that it gives the benefits without any weird chemicals.

This is a product for gym rats who are serious about their nutrition and are willing to pay a premium price. If that is you, this is a good candidate for you. Given the relatively high price, I would recommend trying to get one at a local store first to try them.


Philips Sonicare HX3631/06 Powerup Battery Toothbrush, Medium, Scuba Blue
Philips Sonicare HX3631/06 Powerup Battery Toothbrush, Medium, Scuba Blue
Price: $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Entry-Level/Travel Power Toothbrush, October 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Philips Sonicare Powerup Battery Toothbrush is an entry level offering. I have been using the Flexcare+ model with UV sanitizer for a number of years, but I was always hesitant to travel with it. I was worried about either losing it or damaging it in my checked luggage. However, I didn’t have the same reservations with this toothbrush that is about 10% of the retail price of my primary toothbrush.

First off, it stood up to the rigors of being in my checked bag with no issues on a recent trip. I did separate the brush head and take out the batteries when I packed them. Risk, however, is not the only thing that decreases with this toothbrush from the Flexcare+. The Flexcare+ and the Powerup both have two minute cycles, but that is where the similarities stop. The more advanced model has signals to help you spend an even amount of time in each zone of your teeth based on top/bottom and front/back. You are on your own with the Powerup. The Flexcare+ also has five different modes including one that is slower for targeted gum care. The Powerup is single mode. The Flexcare+ is rechargeable, whereas the Powerup is battery powered. The other major difference is that the Powerup is significantly more forceful. To compare the difference, the Flexcare+ is like a tremor that barely registers while the Powerup is the most violent earthquake known to mankind. Some may find it too strong. It doesn’t bother me, but it is noticeably different.
In the end, the Powerup does a good job of getting my teeth clean. It is a bare bones, entry-level model that I like to use for travel purposes. Others who should consider this are those who are looking to step up from manual toothbrushes. If you are hoping for something more advanced, this isn’t the toothbrush for you. You will need to invest more money to get more features.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Premium Ingredients At A Premium Price, October 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Vega Chocolate Cherry Almond bars establish a new benchmark for companies like Clif and Odwalla to strive toward. I have used similar products from the other companies based on their preference for natural and organic ingredients. I don’t use these as meal replacement bars per se. These are typically my mid-afternoon or after workout recovery snack.

So, why does Vega raise the “bar” as it were? While Clif and Odwalla go out of their way to use good ingredients, Vega seems to take the approach of cramming as many of these as possible into a tasty bar that is under 300 calories. There are things in these bars (such as broccoli) that I wouldn’t touch if you cooked them and put them on my plate. However, they are nicely masked beneath the flavors of chocolate, oats, and almonds. The only thing some may want to consider is that the cherry flavor is not very strong. If you are looking for a subtle hint of cherry, this is what you need. I find it more than satisfactory.

There is one catch. Based on current prices (please verify as time goes by), the Vega product is about twice as expensive as what you get from Clif or Odwalla. Is the higher cost justified? If you compare the ingredients, there is a definite difference. If you want the best ingredients, you must expect to pay more. Your decision comes down to how much you are willing to pay for the best of the best. Hopefully, I’ve giving you some information to help make that choice.


Cafejo Capsules, Sumatra, 12 Count (Pack of 6)
Cafejo Capsules, Sumatra, 12 Count (Pack of 6)
Price: $43.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich And Balanced - A Winner!, October 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have tried a number of different K-Cup coffee varieties over the last couple of years, but the Sumatra is my first from Cafejo. I was pleased with the results from these K-Cups. While it isn’t the “best coffee ever”, they do achieve an above average flavor. I have had plenty of K-Cups that fail miserably; therefore, do not underestimate the importance of this. The flavor is rich, as one would expect from a dark roast, but it is never bitter. The word that best describes the flavor to me is balanced. As a bit of an aside, I had written off Sumatra coffee because I thought Starbucks (brewed in store, at home, or any other format) was just plain awful. If you have similar thoughts, you should know that the taste of this coffee has nothing in common with the Starbucks variety - at least in my opinion.

The quality is there with the Cafejo Sumatra K-Cups. If you can find these in the $0.50 to $0.60 per K-Cup range, I would rate them a definite buy. Those who enjoy a rich yet balanced dark roasted coffee will not be disappointed.


BISSELL BOLT ION XRT 2-in-1 Lightweight Cordless Vacuum, 25.2v, 1311
BISSELL BOLT ION XRT 2-in-1 Lightweight Cordless Vacuum, 25.2v, 1311
Price: $229.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot Duty Champ!, October 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Bissell Bolt Ion XRT is great to have for spot duty - especially on hard surfaces. It also has a detachable hand vacuum reminiscent of a Dust Buster. It is very easy to setup and use. The pieces connect without issue as expected, and it took about 2 and ˝ hours to reach a full change as my unit arrived fully charged.

I found it easy to use for touch up duty in the kitchen and dining room. We have a buffet that sits a few inches off the ground on its feet, and the bending hinge in the XRT was handy in being able to reach under there. Previously, we had to move the buffet to clean under it. The EdgeReach feature is also nice for cleaning along the baseboards in the kitchen. I also like the easy access to the speed adjustment. I was going over one of our throw rugs that tends to slide, and I needed to lower the speed of the XRT in order to keep from moving the rug.

The hand vacuum is also very nice. It has a good crevice attachment for getting down in furniture and other narrow areas. I was using the brush attachment on the couch cushion, and I discovered quickly that there was a lot of dog hair on there. I had to pull the dog hair out of the brush bristles by hand. Overall, it performed well.

Cleanup is pretty easy, but I was surprised at how much dirt and gunk there was from a test drive. I took advantage of the fact that the filter is washable, and it everything went according to plan.

The Bissell XRT is a nice unit to have around the house for spot jobs, but it will not serve as your primary vacuum. It is too small, and I don’t expect its charge would last on a house of any size. It would be great for dorm rooms. It serves a distinct purpose, and it does it well. I give it two thumbs up.


Frigidaire 6-Slice Convection Toaster Oven, 6 Cooking Settings FRCN06K5NS
Frigidaire 6-Slice Convection Toaster Oven, 6 Cooking Settings FRCN06K5NS
Price: $85.04

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Step Up From Regular Toaster Oven, October 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Frigidaire Professional Convection Toaster Oven is my first convection oven. I have had a series of four-slice models from Black & Decker, but I was intrigued by the claim of oven results at near microwave speeds. My typical uses are toasting bread and cooking frozen pizzas.

As a new convection oven user, I needed guidance on how convection ovens are different. As of today, this is not on the product page. It is also not included in the product manual, and the Frigidaire website doesn’t know about this product yet. I turned to Google, and I found some general guidance that convection ovens typically require reducing the cooking temperature by 10-15%. Timing adjusts were said to require some experimenting. In other words, get ready for some good old trial and error.

For regular toaster oven users, the main difference in controls is the inclusion of convection versions of bake, broil, and reheat. When I made my morning toast, I used the normal bake/toast setting, and things worked as expected. When I compared it to my old toaster oven, the bread toasted faster and more evenly. This is a larger unit, and the faster toasting is not unexpected. For pizza time, I did use convection bake. The package says to cook at 425 for 12 minutes. The magic formula in this oven is 375 for about 8 minutes. For reference, my old toaster oven took about 20 minutes at 425 for the same product. Those are great results! How can you argue with less than half the time at a lower temperature?

Granted, my use cases are not that advanced, but this unit shows a lot of promise. I would like to see a little more guidance from the manufacturer, but that is the only complaint that I have. I would recommend using some low risk meals to get the hang of cooking with a convection oven. Also, don’t forget to complete the “burn-in” step prior to use. This thing smells awful when you burn off the dust and oil from manufacturing, storing, and shipping.


Seventh Generation Hand Wash, Mandarin Orange & Grapefruit , 12 ounce, (Pack of 8)
Seventh Generation Hand Wash, Mandarin Orange & Grapefruit , 12 ounce, (Pack of 8)
Offered by Box O' Mart
Price: $34.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Soap Without The Chemicals, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like the Seventh Generation hand soap. I tried the Mandarin Orange and Grapefruit variety. As I become more conscious of the chemicals that I come in contact with, I turn to Seventh Generation to provide natural alternatives. I have used their kitchen sprays in the past, and I have been pleased with their results their too. I can say that their hand soap is just as reliable of a product. The scent is not overly strong, but I it is present enough to be pleasant. It lathers just like you would expect soap to, and there really isn’t a lot that suggests this is a different kind of product from run-of-the-mill soap. I see this as a neutral factor, but this soap is not quite as thick as something like Softsoap. However, I don’t think it really matters. It is not so thin that it will run between your fingers. I give it two thumbs up.


Dark Spies: A Spycatcher Novel
Dark Spies: A Spycatcher Novel
by Matthew Dunn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.33
63 used & new from $8.60

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps The Best Spy Novel I've Read, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dark Spies is the second novel that I’ve read in Matthew Dunn’s series featuring Will Cochrane - the elite CIA/MI6 joint operative. I am also a fan of the Cotton Malone series and the Sigma Force novels as well. Let me say that this is quite possible the best novel I’ve read from any of these three spy novel series. I won’t bore you with a rehashing of the basic plot points because you can get that from the product page. For me, it is the combination of storytelling and pacing that is almost otherworldly. The story was compelling and intense. I thought I had it figured out, but the resolution chapter near the end threw me a curveball that I didn’t see coming. Cochrane is now my favorite covert operative in fiction. He takes it in the shorts in a major way in this novel, but Dunn did something that really made him over the top sympathetic to me. As Will is off fighter for his very existence, his neighbors who have flats in the complex with his band together to replace his fairly expensive collectables after his place is completely trashed. You will have to read the book to fully appreciate this, but Dark Spies is written in a way that I really connected with me. It is more that just a wanting the “good guys” to win sort of thing. Spy thrillers don’t usually make such a deep connection no matter how compelling the story is - and this story is also compelling. I can’t recommend Dark Spies enough. It is in a league of its own.

Overall: A+


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