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Customer Reviews: 43
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Zojirushi NP-HBC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker and Warmer with Induction Heating System, Stainless Steel
Zojirushi NP-HBC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Rice Cooker and Warmer with Induction Heating System, Stainless Steel

5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Rice Cooker I've Ever Owned, November 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I haven't had a great deal of luck with the rice cookers sold in most US retail stores. I've owned three and, in general, they achieve the task of cooking rice, but the result is not optimal. I prefer fluffy, soft, rice that holds it's flavor and texture when reheated. The rice cookers I had previously owned didn't really achieve those things.

To be fair, rice cookers that are common here tend to be pretty inexpensive and basic. They certainly don't carry the several hundred dollar price tag of this beast.

So, I wasn't 100% sold that a $500 rice cooker would be any better than the cheap rice cookers, or any good at all.

That concern was quickly debunked the first time I used this. This is easily the best rice cooker I've ever owned. Here's why:
- It gives you much more control over the texture of the rice
- The different settings for different kinds of rice actually work- based on the results with my old rice cookers, I'd always suspected that their settings for, say, brown rice were akin to the close door button on an elevator. There for show and totally non-functional.
- Once it reaches the optimal cooking conditions, it will estimate how many minutes are left until the rice is done. This is incredible valuable when you are trying to plan when to make other items in your meal
- It changes the texture and consistency of the rice such that, when you reheat it in a microwave, it's almost as good as when it was freshly made- I've never experienced this in any rice cooker I've had before. Nor have I been able to get this with rice I've cooked on stove-top. Typically it is very tough and unappealing when reheated
- It's charming. From the little melodies it plays to let you know it's started or finished cooking the rice, to the rice paddle holder you can attach to it's side... it's just a fun little device
- It fits under my cabinets.

This was a very pricey purchase for me but I'm extremely happy with it and it is the first rice cooker I've ever owned that has a permanent space on my countertops because it is so good I'm using it at least twice a week.

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Bundle - Nintendo 3DS
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer Bundle - Nintendo 3DS
Offered by Techno Dealz
Price: $51.50
33 used & new from $34.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Even as an Animal Crossing Fan, I Don't Recommend This, November 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am an adamant Animal Crossing fan. I've been playing Animal Crossing games since the initial US offering on the Gamecube. That said, I just couldn't get into this game. In fact, I will confess to being so bored with it that I gave up after just three days of playing it, so take this review with a requisite grain of salt as there may be additional features I never got to see because I gave up early.

I should also call out that I'm an adult gamer. While I've found other games in the Animal Crossing franchise to be just as much fun for adults as they are for kids, I suspect that this game is targeting younger players exclusively.

I tried to be very thoughtful about any possible Pros to list for this game and all I could come up with is that it is generally pretty, and the dialogue and world will feel familiar to Animal Crossing fans. That's about the end of it's appeal to me.

If you are a true Animal Crossing fan, I suspect you will feel as slighted by this contribution to the franchise as I do. This game pulls out just the interior design challenges of Animal Crossing, which I felt could be interesting if done right. So, the first thing to know is that it is not a traditional AC game that incorporates fishing, fossils, etc.

While a game based exclusively on the interior design elements of Animal Crossing could have been interesting I felt like this game failed to make them so because:
- It's not challenging. In three days of playing, every character I designed a home for like the design. They never disliked it.
- It's near impossible to get anything wrong because the characters react positively or negatively to every object you try to place in their home before you commit to placing it. While I realize this is in the spirit of the no-way-to-lose Animal Crossing franchise... some level of the possibility of failure is required to make the game fun, interesting, or challenging.
- The animals tell you what they want in their home. There's almost no need to learn anything about the characters, to listen for clues or to decode their meaning... they just give you the items they want to be in their homes and let you pick the rest.

The Amiibo Card Angle:
Using the Amiibo cards allowed you to bring familiar characters from past games in the franchise in to town and to take on their decorating needs. It was sort of fun to be involved in designing homes for characters you've interacted with for years... but I felt like it should have been more of a standard feature of the game, rather than requiring cards.

Also, note that you will need an Amiibo reader accessory to be able to use the cards if you aren't using the recently released New 3DS or New 3DS XL. You can get copies of this game with the reader bundled in. The game comes with one Amiibo card, so you can try the feature out before committing to additional cards (which run about $5 for a pack of ten).

Ultimately, most gamers should pass on this title. I would recommend that even Animal Crossing fanatics who aren't obsessed with the interior design aspects of the game can safely pass on it (or think of it more as a collector's piece).

I'm not a fan of this game. It didn't hold my interest. As an AC fan, I felt like it damaged the franchise more than it helped it.

Alchemy Goods Franklin Bifold Wallet, Marine Thread
Alchemy Goods Franklin Bifold Wallet, Marine Thread
Price: $35.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Vegan's Take, November 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I am a vegan, so I'm always on the lookout for quality, animal-free products that are comparable to their leather counterparts in usability and comfort. So, while I'm writing this review in order to help vegans compare this wallet to other options, I realize that the primary goal of this wallet isn't necessarily to be a vegan product, but to be conscientious in reusing and repurposing post-consumer goods. In that sense, I think it's fantastic.

If you are looking at this solely as a vegan alternative to leather wallets, however, I would say it's just okay.

I've been using it for several months. In general, it has achieved the task of holding a license, insurance cards, a few charge cards, and a bit of cash.
- Really love the focus on repurposing
- I like that it is relatively slim as I carry my wallet in my back pocket so I don't want a lot of bulk.
- I was worried the material might smell, but I found that is not the case.
- I've also found it to be very durable.
- For me, this is a local product as it's made in Seattle.

- The rubber often rubs the reflective material off of charge cards (e.g. the numbers or expiration). This can make the cards difficult to read. While it's rare that I need to read the digits off of a card, it does make online shopping a bit more tougher. Some local merchants
- There's very little yield at the seams of card pockets. This means that they really are designed to hold just card. If you try to put multiple cards in the card slots, you can make them fit, but they have a tendency to crack if you keep this wallet in your back pocket and apply basic pressure (like sitting down).

Ultimately, I think there are much better vegan wallets out there (in terms of comfort and usability) by Herschel and Vegan Collection. I still went with this wallet, however, because I preferred that it was reusing/repurposing what might have otherwise become waste.

Pinzon 6-Piece Egyptian Cotton Towel Set - White
Pinzon 6-Piece Egyptian Cotton Towel Set - White
Price: $21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Balance of Affordability, Quality, and Ease of Maintenance, November 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I initially purchased a single pack of these towels for a guest bathroom, but I liked them so much that I eventually replaced all of my towels with them.

They are nearly unbeatable for the price. I have been using them every day for three years, and they've held up extremely well to regular use. Also, I can confidently say that they don't require any special care. I'm not the type of person who follows tag instructions when laundering things, and that seems to have had very little impact on these towels over the last three years.

They have a really well-balanced texture that you typically have to pay much more for in retail stores. It's strong enough to dry well, but soft enough that it doesn't feel abrasive. This is particularly important to me because I have very sensitive skin. Hotel towels feel like sandpaper to me. I've actually taken to packing these when I travel.

There are softer, and more luxuriant towels out there. These are not perfect. The cost/benefit ratio is certainly in their favor, however. I really feel like they provide the best balance at an affordable price point.

So, if you are looking to invest in a really good (yet affordable) towel set that will hold up well to regular use and careless laundry habits- I would really recommend them.

Sony NSX-40GT1 40-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LED HDTV Featuring Google TV, Black (2010 Model)
Sony NSX-40GT1 40-Inch 1080p 60 Hz LED HDTV Featuring Google TV, Black (2010 Model)
8 used & new from $549.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Might be great someday, but not today., January 11, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Today's TVs are very different devices than those of even 5 years ago. You really need to know what you want out of a TV because the innovation and differentiation between manufacturers is significant. It's definitely a great market for consumers.

What I thought I wanted out of a TV was this: a device running on a flexible and future-facing platform that leverages the best of internet video, apps (that I would actually want on a TV like Netflix, IMDb, etc.), and old-fashioned television. The Google TV seemed like the obvious choice.

Unfortunately, it's not quite there yet. I've now used this TV for over a month and I am looking to get rid of it. I wanted to like this TV because it had so much potential. If it's helpful in making your decision, below are the reasons why I wish I wouldn't have purchased it. Also, you should know that I have the latest software on it (Honeycomb), in case you were thinking that update might fix some of this. Sadly, it doesn't. = )

The Remote- The remote looks cool, but using it is entirely frustrating. I'm sure there's a logic as to when to use the trackpad wheel on the right, and when to use the nav wheel on the left, but it's certainly not intuitive. The buttons are easy to accidentally press because they are small and several. It's easy to bump the remote, and that causes a mouse cursor to jump onto the screen which doesn't disappear for about 30 seconds. I ended up downloading the Google TV remote for my iPhone and just sitting the physical remote aside.

Android Doesn't Seem Ready for TV- The OS the TV is running is Google's Android and it is very exposed. The TV runs apps, and when they need an update a notification pops up on your screen every few hours (even if you are watching something). Sometimes the updates don't work and it just continues to notify you. I've been trying to update the NBA app (which came installed on the TV and can't be removed), for weeks, in order to get rid of the notification pop up. When I try to update, it gives me an error message saying the operation failed and to try again later. Another fun OS error occurs when I try to use the Google TV Remote app for my iPhone to control the TV. If my iPhone is dormant too long, it generates a large error message on the TV screen that pretty much blocks the middle of the screen (and whatever you were watching). The error says the connection failed. When you select OK, which you can only do by finding the physical remote and using the annoying tiny trackpad, it gives you another error indicating the Remote Control app failed. At this point you've lost your focus on whatever you were watching. There's something very annoying and unnatural about the error messages and notifications popping up in the middle of my movies that served as the final straw for me.

No Hulu- There's no Hulu Plus app for Google TV and there's actually no way to view Hulu on Google TV. It just gives you a message indicating that it's coming soon (as it has been for months and months and months). Every other Sony TV with Internet connectivity currently being sold offers Hulu Plus. I never realized how much I liked having Hulu on my TV until I couldn't get it.

YouTube Doesn't Work Sometimes- When you try to watch a YouTube video it prompts a box asking if you want to watch it in the browser or on the YouTube app. I honestly feel it would be nicer if it just chose one or let you set a default to limit complexity (maybe there's a setting I haven't discovered). After a few videos viewed in the browser, YouTube just stops working in the browser until you kill the browser app and reopen it. Sometimes the same thing happens in the YouTube app. It's very hit or miss.

Very Few Apps- Google TV advertising boasts several apps, but there are only a handful of apps actually designed for the Google TV. Most the apps offered appear to be designed for Android tablets. Some of the tablet apps work out OK, but Google clearly hasn't built a strategy for how to limit dysfunctional features by device yet. For example, some apps offer errors when they can't access features like vibration or screen brightness, etc. One app was unable to use the TV's internet connection so it didn't work. This is disappointing because they are offered in the app marketplace on the TV. You would assume that the majority of features would be functional on the TV if they are offered on the TV's store. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. So they kind of work... but not really. To be fair, you really don't want every Android app on your TV; only a few are relevant (like Flixster, Netflix, IMDb, etc). It's just annoying that Google isn't moderating the content well.

Searching is Confusing- You would assume that Google would do search well on Google TV, but it's not quite there yet either. If you hit the search button on the remote from within Netflix, for example, you would assume you are searching Netflix. Instead, you are searching the entire OS, all videos on all apps and services (like your cable or satellite). I hope Google offers developers an API (or perhaps they already do and nobody uses it) which allows the option to narrow search to within an app with the hardware search button in a future update. If the search functionality worked intuitively, it would be very useful.

Settings... a Nightmare- Because the TV (even the hardware) thinks of itself as an Android Device... like, literally thinks of itself as a giant tablet, all of the hardware settings are in the Android settings app. It's sometimes tough to know what's a function of the OS and what's a function of the hardware. That makes it difficult to find the right settings. It also seems that some of the settings you would expect on a TV are just absent.

The Hardware is Cheap- I don't want to hark on this too much considering the price point of this TV, but the hardware is really cheap. It's also pretty poorly designed for wall-mounting. For instance, the speakers are on the back. If you mount the TV, the volume sounds muffled, but your neighbors will likely complain since it's reverberating through the walls. Another annoying hardware element is that, by default, the Sony logo on the front glows a brilliant white whenever the TV is on. It's pretty difficult to navigate the Android system settings to find the option to turn that off. Trust me though, you'll want to turn it off right away. The light is very distracting with movies. Lastly on the hardware front, the low refresh rate results in ghosting. It's most evident on games.

I waited for the first major revamp, hopeful that Google TV would finally be a perfect fit at this price, but discovered it's not. I wouldn't recommend this TV unless you really need a browser on your TV; the fully-functional Chrome browser is it's only real strong point. I gave it several weeks thinking I would eventually fall in love with it once I learned to use it better or once I found it's "killer app" or "killer feature." Turns out it just doesn't have one.

I hope these experiences I've shared help you make a well-informed decision. If you really want to tinker with Google TV (and I'd posit that tinkering is all it's really good for at this point), you may want to consider the less expensive Logitech Revue connected to a different TV:Logitech Revue Companion Box with Google TV and Keyboard Controller.

If you are just looking for a good way to get Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and some other key content on your existing TV, I'd consider a Roku. It's got dozens of apps/channels to bring web content to your TV at a very reasonable price: Roku LT Streaming Player. There are some differences between models though, so read carefully before buying.

If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac (and don't mind not having Hulu), you are better off with an Apple TV. They are fairly inexpensive and work well with your other Apple products. They allow you to do things like push YouTube videos you start on your iPhone to your Apple TV, access iTunes Match, shop the iTunes store, stream your music from your computer, etc. Apple TV also has an incredibly well-designed interface built around simplicity (something Google should really consider), and intuitive navigation: Apple TV MC572LL/A (NEWEST VERSION).

If you are interested in what I have my eye on to replace this Google TV, I'm considering a Panasonic Plasma model with VieraCAST. It has all the web apps and YouTube you could want. it also has a video adapter for Skype that allows you to create 3D video (imagine sitting around the TV on Christmas morning while it takes all the video for you in 3D). Plus it has dozens of apps including Netflix, Pandora, Skype, Hulu, YouTube, 3D, etc: Panasonic VIERA TC-P46ST30 46-Inch 1080p 600 Hz 3D Plasma HDTV. Some of the Samsung Smart TVs also look pretty amazing.

Thanks for reading, hope it helped, and I hope you enjoy whatever you ultimately decide on!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 23, 2012 9:14 AM PDT

Micro SIM card adapter 3FF Mini UiCC (100% German-Made)
Micro SIM card adapter 3FF Mini UiCC (100% German-Made)
Offered by BASATNE
Price: $3.00
2 used & new from $3.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inexpensive, but not a high quality solution, August 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this because I own an iPhone 4 as my primary phone, but wanted to try out an Android phone.

This is definitely not for those who will be switching between phones regularly. It holds the micro sim in place using a sticker. The package comes with two stickers. Clearly this is a very low tech solution, which is totally fine for the price. Unfortunately, the stickers tend to add to the profile of the sim tray, due to their design. This caused it to get caught and then stuck in my Android device. It took tweezers and a great deal of patience to get it out again.

Additionally, it didn't keep the sim card solidly in place and so the sim would occasionally lose contact and cause the phone to lose service.

In all, it was a mess. It helped me realize that the best solution is a micro sim adapter that solidly holds the micro sim in place with a clip or other stable solution.

Overall, this didn't work for me and I eventually just threw it out. If you are somebody who's looking to go between multiple phones (international travelers, owners of multiple phones, people who share a phone) this is not the solution for you.

If you are buying this to move from an old phone to a, single, new phone you should be fine. Just take a lot of care when applying the sticker that holds the sim in place. Also know, that it may occasionally lose contact with the sim slot/reader. This happened to me about twice a week.

Best of luck! Hope this was helpful.

No Title Available

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Considering the iPad, April 11, 2010
Steve Jobs described the iPad as a magical and revolutionary device at the Apple press event that launched the product. So, as an owner of the device, would I also consider it "magical" and "revolutionary"?

Well, I don't know about magical as I generally reserve that for unicorns and the like. I've logged several hours on the device since launch day to give you a well-rounded account of the great, the not so great, and hopefully help you know if the iPad is right for you!


I really love my iPad. Like many, my first impression was that it was just a giant iPod Touch. I've come to realize that's not the case. In fact, it's so much more useful than an iPod Touch, I just chuckle these days when people say this. For me, the applications, utilization of the extra space, and the web capabilities that really won me over. There are a few features I'm really hoping are forthcoming in a future software build that would make the device even more useful. On the whole, the iPad has become an extremely useful device that's got my laptop feeling a bit unloved and jealous these days.


There's no denying the iPad is gorgeous. Apple has re-envisioned the beautiful look of the iPod Touch/iPhone in a fuller form. The screen is flawless and (as I unfortunately learned) very resistant to scratching. If you intend to use the device outdoors you'll want to know that the high-gloss on the screen makes it very difficult to see in direct sunlight at times. The speaker and mic are great in this device. The speaker will fill an entire room with sound. Unfortunately, Apple (yet again) put a focus on design over ergonomic. The iPad is a bit hefty, and a bit difficult to hold for long periods of time. It is; however, much sturdier than you might expect from the pictures.

The processor works extremely well with the iPhone OS, it's a screaming combination that makes this one of the fastest tablet computers I've used in ages. That being said, much of the software is designed for the less powerful iPhone still. We'll see how the iPad's speed stands up to a new wave of software designed for 1GHz mobile processors soon enough. Initially; however, it's been unimaginably quick.

Battery life is amazing. I'm getting at least 8 hours (even watching video) and sometimes more. I also opted for the 64GB version of the iPad. It has plenty of storage for what I've been using the device for, but as my video collection becomes progressively more High Definition, it won't be long before I have to start picking and choosing what I can place on my iPad. This is not something I'm happy about in a device costing $699 + Tax that's so clearly designed for HD video and content. I'm also very disappointed in Apple's decision to not include an SD card reader for the device. This is one area where the HP slate still has a compelling advantage. There are many instances in which, popping in an SD card and being able to access the documents, images, music, and video stored on it would be extremely nice. Apple has planned an accessory for the iPad which will allow you to port your photos to it via an SD card adapter, but that's the extent of its functionality with SD cards. That's a definite delta for me.

I have the Wi-Fi edition as the 3G version has not been released yet. I've run into a few instances where it would have been extremely nice to have 3G connectivity. If I had to make the choice over again, I think I would question my decision that everywhere I go has Wi-Fi anyway, and probably wait for the 3G edition. I'd really encourage you to hold out if you think there's any way in which you'd use the iPad regularly outside of Wi-Fi coverage.

Just a quick note, I've had none of the issues that other users have reported with wireless connectivity. My iPad has been drama-free thus far. I'll update this review as I encounter issues to keep you aware.

--Web Browsing & Email

Two of the iPad's strongest features are web browsing and email. Safari (the iPhone OS' native browser) is very fast. It's a significantly better browsing experience on the iPad than you'll have on the iPhone. I've found that I really don't use apps for sites like Facebook anymore. The iPad's screen makes it much easier to just visit the actual Facebook site.

Even on the iPhone, email has never been so quick and simple. Apple really devised a great approach to email. A quick tap calls up a pain showing you all the emails in your inbox with a brief preview. You can organize, clear, or open email in ways that seem decades ahead of what MS Outlook is capable of. Setting up my Corporate Exchange account on the iPad took less than 60 seconds! It's hard to express what makes email so much better on the iPad than the iPhone/iPod Touch, but you'll know it when you see it.

--The Applications

The applications really sold me on the iPad. I can't say enough about the iWork suite (sold separately via the App Store)! This software suite puts a desktop-grade word processing application and presentation software on your iPad. The "Numbers" spreadsheet application isn't exactly as smooth, but is still the best spreadsheet app available on a mobile platform. There are just so many great applications already available for the iPad that I can't list them all. My favorites so far are iWork Suite, Sketchbook Pro, Kindle for iPad, ABC Player, and Marvel Comics App. The extra screen real estate makes this device unquestionably better for media. Even the iPod application within the iPad is much smoother than on other iPhone OS devices. The iPad will also run your iPhone applications, and can double their size to help them fill more of the gigantic screen. Honestly, the iPhone applications aren't much of a selling point on this device. They look grainy and ridiculous on the iPad's screen.

--iBook Store/Reader

The iPad does several things well. One it doesn't do well would be eBooks. The backlit screen is tough on the eyes and the resolution leaves the characters fuzzy. As a Kindle owner, I can honestly say that the iPad is not a replacement for that device. This is pretty much universally true of the eReader applications available for the iPhone/iPad. It may be personal preference but I really don't enjoy more than brief periods of reading on backlit screens. There's a reason 700 page novels aren't backlit = ).

--I really wish it had...

I really wish Apple would reconsider their stance on Adobe Flash. The absence of the key internet video technology makes the internet a little hit or miss. You'll still have a great YouTube option via the iPad's YouTube app, but little embedded videos on places like the NYT, MSNBC, or other sites are just not there at this point. Let's hope that Adobe and Apple either make up soon or HTML5 catches on extremely fast! Until then, the HP Slate may be a better option for users who really take advantage of web video other than YouTube.

A camera would also be really nice, especially a front-facing camera for video conferencing. In a dock the iPad seems almost born to video conference! I doubt I'd be taking many pictures with my iPad if it included just a standard back-mounted camera, but it might help developers do more in their applications.

--The Accessories:

The iPad uses the same (30-pin) style connector as the iPhone/iPod so it already has a wealth of compatible accessories on the market. If you own an iPhone/iPod, it may even be compatible with devices you already own. Here's the rule of thumb: If you have to dock the iPhone/iPod Touch... the iPad won't be compatible, if you can connect it via a cable, it'll work. This is mostly due to the considerable size of the iPad. Obviously, it's not going to fit in that smaller indentation that most iPhone/iPod docks utilize.

I really recommend a case, and dock for this beast. I've owned my iPhone for 3 years and never owned a case for it (until a few weeks ago). I got away with that just fine. The larger screen of the iPad makes it a different sort of device; however, and I wouldn't even think of running around without a case on this thing. It's actually a bit disappointing that Apple didn't include one. I'm sort of glad they didn't; however, because I purchased the iPad case designed by Apple and was extremely disappointed. It's of a very weak felt lined cardboard from what I can tell. Its material holds oil and lint making the screen worse when you close the case. It also has such a tight grip on the device that putting the iPad in or taking it out of the case makes you feel like you might damage it.

The iPad really needs a dock! You wouldn't really anticipate it, but having this giant on your counter can really occupy much of your kitchen or desk space. I'd recommend a dock as they generally hold the device upright maximizing the space around it. Apple makes a really great dock for the device that includes an audio-out port. Just note, that the case designed by Apple isn't compatible with the dock. Go figure.

If you intend to carry a lot of video on the device, you may also want to invest in a video-out cable. The solutions available for the iPhone/iPod Touch will work for the iPad, or you can opt for the Apple video out cables (they actually aren't too horrible price-wise).

--A note about iPhone OS 4:

Apple announced the newest edition of the iPhone operating system (which the iPad runs on) last week. Some really great features are on their way that will benefit the iPad a great deal! Amongst the best of them- multi-tasking (run multiple applications or processes at once), geotagging, improvements to gaming on the device, and more! Read up on the new OS! It should be available for the iPad later this year.

Thanks for reading my review! I hope it helped. If you do decide to purchase an iPad, have fun. It's a great device, and don't forget to try out the Sketchbook Pro, and iWork apps. I really love them on mine!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 6, 2010 9:11 AM PDT

The Golden Compass [Blu-ray]
The Golden Compass [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Nicole Kidman
Offered by Sunday River
Price: $7.74
94 used & new from $0.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fair movie, loosely based on the book, April 6, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When I discuss this movie with people, they are often surprised to note that it is based on a series of Novels known as the "His Dark Materials" trilogy. The Golden Compass is the first of the three novels, and to date the only one made into a motion picture (and based of the general controversy and dismal box office number in the US it's likely to remain that way). I should start by noting that I'm not one of those people who always believes that the book is better than the movie. There are several examples of movies and TV series that really out perform their print editions; Bones, Practical Magic, etc. I do believe; however, that it should be noted that this movie is significantly different from the novel. Please note, if you are a Golden Compass book or His Dark Materials fan, you may want to rent this one before buying.

This movie is geared toward a younger child than the books. Given its intended audience it does rather well. There's not much room for character development so Lyra's actions don't always make a great deal of sense.

The biblical reference to the "Authority" from the book trilogy has been cleverly removed from the film so it's also not as clear what the character's motivations are. There are some spirited performances; however, from Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra), Nicole Kidman (Ms. Coulter), and Ian McKellen (Iorek Byrnison). Freddie Highmore's vocalization of Pantalaimon (Lyra's Daemon) almost made me turn off the film on 4 separate occasions.

Beyond the characters and plot, the visuals are amazing. It's very clear that this movie had a great deal of special effects budget. It was also not afraid to hold some gorey punches (pun intended) here and there.

The soundtrack isn't bad, but it's certainly not going to be iTunes' top-seller.

The bonus content on the BluRay edition of this film is definitely worth the extra for the two disc edition. Speaking of BluRay, if you are trying to decide between it and the DVD copy for this film I would highly recommend the BluRay edition. There's a lot of graphical wizardry, the kind that BluRay does extremely well.

Overall, I think it's worth a rent if you have children, or if you enjoy family type movies. As a fan of the "His Dark Materials" novels I was extremely disappointed, especially with the end of this film. If you are concerned about renting or purchasing this for your family due to the controversy surrounding it, as always make the decision that's right for you, but know that they've greatly downplayed the parts that caused most of the controversy in the novels (for better or worse).

If you are interested in other books in the same series as the one this movie was based off of, here you go:

-The Subtle Knife, Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials, Book 2)(Rough-cut)
-The Amber Spyglass, Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition (His Dark Materials, Book 3)(Rough-cut)
-Lyra's Oxford

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Price: $3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes Gets a Darker Twist, April 6, 2010
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It seems that Hollywood is obsessed with reviving old tales with new twists. I should start by saying, if you are a Holmes purist, you probably won't enjoy this movie. Sherlock is depicted ingeniously as ever, but this time he's got a knack for the boxing ring and a bit of a naughty side. Watson has some money management issues, but is otherwise the nagging voice of reason that supports Holmes.

In terms of visual appeal, the movie is pretty spectacular. If you, like me, only opt for High Def when a movie really warrants it and stick with DVDs the remainder of the time, I'd recommend going HD with this one.

The soundtrack is a bit... annoying. Holmes is no longer a classical violinist, but like to finger pick his violin... at times to test it's affect on animals. The suspense generating fingerpicking of the violin plays heavily into the soundtrack and actually distracted me a time or two from what was happening.

To watch this movie, I had to initially come to terms with the transition in Holmes' character. He is not the Holmes of old. He is a darker, somewhat depraved variation of the beloved sleuth. If you really want to get the full effect of the film, you have to know that going in and open your mind to a new vision of Sherlock Holmes. Once I did this, I started to see the merits of the movie. The characters have a larger than life feel about them, the plot has plenty of suspense and twists, there is an element of the occult, a strong underpinning of science, and some humorous moments as well.

It also, surprisingly had some replay value. The end reveals aspects of the plot I didn't notice on the first run. When I gave it a second watch I noticed considerably more.

My vote- definitely worth a rent. If you like visually appealing movies, detective movies, or something Douglass Preston/Lincoln Childish... you may want to consider purchasing it.

In case you don't feel like waiting for it to ship, it appears that if you purchase it in hard copy you can watch it immediately via Amazon's Video on Demand service between now and when it arrives.

Panasonic DVD-LS86 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player (2001 Model)
Panasonic DVD-LS86 8.5-Inch Portable DVD Player (2001 Model)

329 of 337 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There are better options at this price point., August 30, 2009
I picked this up after briefly reviewing the competition's specs. When you are shopping for a portable DVD player, the features you essentially want to pay attention to are screen size, picture quality, and battery life. If you are burning your own DVDs or playing certain styles of downloaded content you'll also want to pay attention to the format capabilities.

I finally decided on this device because it advertised 13 hour battery life and I was flying to Europe (a 9 hour flight from WA State). I was also going to be tossing it in a backpack and going. The folding design seemed like a logical choice to protect the screen with the applicable rough use.

Here's what I found, hope it helps you make an informed decision!


- Design is elegant and fairly durable.
- Sound quality was surprisingly great.
- Controls were pretty intuitive.
- A/V cable was included accessory.
- Saves your place and starts up right from where you left off.


- Though I didn't expect the full 13hrs battery life, it's more like 5-6 with a reasonable backlight level. Less without headphones.
- Picture quality is not comparable to competing devices like Sony DVP-FX930 9-Inch Portable DVD Player, Black.
- The buttons are awkwardly placed and easy to accidentally press when lifting or resituating the device.


- I don't really think a remote is necessary for this style of electronic but some may find the lack of remote a drawback.
- The folding design can be a bit bulky for coach seating on a plane. It would have been nice if the screen could flip all the way over into a tablet design like this device does: Sony DVPFX810 8-Inch Portable DVD Player, Black

About Traveling with Portable DVD Players:

If you are traveling internationally and plan on buying DVDs when you arrive instead of bringing them with you... you'll want to remember that this device only plays Region 1 DVDs. DVDs from Europe are Region 2. Mexico, Central and South America, Australia and New Zeland are Region 4. Russia, much of Asia, and South Africa are region 5. In all, this means that you can only play DVDs from the region you buy the device from. There are some ways around this to my understanding but as a matter of convenience you may just want to purchase a player from the region you'll use content from. You can find more about DVD regions at:

Looking back on this purchase, I'll probably opt for my iPhone/iPod or one of the following devices in the future...

Sony DVPFX810 8-Inch Portable DVD Player, Black
Sony DVP-FX930 9-Inch Portable DVD Player, Black

And Panasonic also offers a portable Blu Ray Disc Player for those of you who have gone Blu. Battery life is a bit limited and to be honest when I saw it I was thinking that Blu Ray wasn't really meant for a screen this small. That being said, it works in a pinch if your library is now primarily BRD...

Panasonic DMP-B15 Portable Bluray Player

This review was made August 2009 so check for newer options if you're reading this in the future =).

Hope this helps!
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