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Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 14-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Dark Chocolate)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 14-Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Dark Chocolate)

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very unfortunate experience for me overall, August 17, 2013
This model looked great on paper. I purchased this specifically for an overseas business trip, and when I arrived at my destination I noticed the laptop was not finding any wifi signals, despite my smartphone having no problem seeing and connecting to all of them.

I tried half a dozen different wifi spots in different open and unobstructed areas, but no luck. It could not find or connect to a single one. Unfortunately in 2013, wifi is much more necessary for a laptop than an ethernet port, so this was a deal breaker for me. I had no choice but to purchase a replacement during the trip. I could not call Lenovo because of high roaming charges, or use online support because of the wifi issue.

After returning home I contacted Lenovo. Using the ethernet connection, their tech remoted into my laptop and spent an hour doing troubleshooting. He updated the wireless adapter driver,and that didn't work, so he downloaded and installed a different version, and a separate wifi and network program suite, and tried a different wifi encryption, but none of this resolved the issue. Eventually he made the determination I suspected. It was a hardware problem. The wireless adapter was defective.

Despite the fact that the product was less than 3 weeks old, they said I had to ship the laptop to them at my own expense, and wait a 2 week turnaround time for the repair, which was out of the question. In any case, I had to transfer and backup all the data I had loaded on the laptop, and the hours I spent installing the dozens of programs was inevitably wasted time.

So I went to the local store I purchased it from, hoping for some better service and a better outcome. Unfortunately since my business trip lasted 3 weeks, when I tried to return it mere hours after getting back into the country, they said no, their return policy is only good for 2 weeks, which is how pretty much all local retail stores have their computer return policies set now. I suppose a 30 day return policy is simply too much faith for them to put in their products, or too little faith for them to have in their customers that they aren't exploiting their return policy.

The best the store could do was allow me to exchange it for another laptop. That was also out of the question since as I said, I had to get a replacement laptop during my trip. I left the store and had to resolve the matter through my credit card company. Of course this store incident bears no reflection on amazon and the quality of this company.

I purchased the Z400 because I needed to run PC software for my trip, plus I wanted to do some PC gaming during my downtime. When I quickly discovered the broken wifi adapter and realized I had to get a replacement there, I decided to spend the extra coin on a macbook air and setup a dual partition with Windows 7 Ultimate so I could run my PC software. (I wont bother going into my woes with Windows 8)

On a side note, the macbook air had a standard 1 year warranty which dwarfed the 15 day policy every other retailer has, and that's not even talking about applecare. Also, their call center is actually located in the United States. You talk to a native English speaker, and you don't spend 15 minutes navigating through a hierarchic phone menu designed to bottleneck callers from talking to human employees, a human actually answers the phone, and you don't go through a lengthy warranty validation process before they can begin helping you. Their call center is far more efficient and organized, with employees who are more polite and competent.

The macbook air display is far better (pixel density, color saturation, brightness), as well as the battery life, backlit keyboard with adjustable brightness, slimmer screen bezel, lighter weight, much thinner, higher res webcam with focus and tracking, as well as a fully aluminum enclosure, and a fast and quiet solid state drive. Plus once you use the large glass trackpad with the handful of useful and precise gestures, its hard to go back to a cheap plastic trackpad with only a few basic gestures like stuttering page scrolling. Also, only god knows why Lenovo decided to place the touch pad off center as if all their customers happen to be left handed. I speculate it was done for the sole reason to try to avoid it from looking more like a macbook pro than it already does. Sans the multitude of stickers plastered around the keyboard.

The Z400 also sports a cheap aluminum veneer that is only on the bottom keyboard area, and not on the lid, bottom, or bezel. The exposed hinges also don't look all that appealing. The speaker volume is a bit too low, and the sound quality sounds muffled. Typically it comes with the pile of useless shovelware which doesnt serve any purpose but run in your system tray and use up your RAM. Fortunately it's not too difficult to uninstall each program one by one,if not a bit tedious, followed by a registry cleaning and a defrag for good measure.

It's also ironic how Lenovo recognizes that in the 21st century, printed product manuals are unnecessary, with them being accessible online and on pdf files, yet they still insist on equipping DVD drives in their laptops. I would much rather have them out, in exchange for a lower price point, lighter weight, thinner body, and better battery life. But I suppose some people are still rocking their CD albums and DVD movies. And if they do want to keep in the optical drives, they could at least use slot loading drives, instead of tray loading drives as if it were still 1998.

And while multi touch screens are indispensable for smartphones and tablets, I never use them on laptops, despite the fact that Windows 8 metro is designed to utilize it. I also owned a high end Sony Vaio laptop which had a bigger and better touch screen display with Windows 8, and I never used the touch screen on that either. The touchpad or mouse are both within shorter reach of your hand and have more speed, accuracy, and dexterity. Until there is essential and popular laptop software that is designed to really utilize multi touch screens, this will be a feature that will be simply a gimmick.

One of the most apparent flaws to me is that the IdeaPad Z400's monitor has very poor black levels. When the screen is to be entirely black/blank, it has a white core center and the glossy screen just reflects anything, which is very distracting when the screen dims. The monitor is literally incapable of displaying pure black.

Speaking of screen brightness, I also encountered a strange bug when I lowered the screen brightness, it instantly went to the lowest brightness setting, and I could barely see anything at all, and I could not get the brightness back up, either through using the dedicated F command key for brightness control, or doing it through the control panel with the trackpad pointer. I googled this issue and it was a common bug others experienced. I actually had to remove and re-install the display adapter while looking like a fool with an impossibly dim screen while sitting in a crowded airport gate, working to get the brightness back to a viewable level.

Also, when using the laptop at night, the lack of backlit keys becomes an annoyance, and you find yourself tilting the monitor forward to shed light on the keyboard to compensate. Or you can wing it in the dark and hope to avoid hitting the wrong keys.

The minimum 1 star score i'll attribute to the very reasonable price, considering the Core i5 processor, the 6GB of RAM, and the Intel HD 4000 graphics which is remarkably capable for an integrated GPU chipset. It can run most new 3D games at decent framerates at decent quality settings. For example, Dead Space 3 looks great and runs very smoothly. Aside from these highlights, the laptop leaves something to be desired, even when keeping expectations in check, and remembering that this is a mid range laptop.

On my flight, I got approximately 90 minutes of use from a full battery charge, with wifi and bluetooth turned off, airplane mode on, and screen brightness on medium. Quite disappointing considering its not a powerhouse laptop with a 17" screen, i7 cpu and a discreet radeon gpu. That covered me for less than half my flight. On my return flight my macbook air lasted the full 5 hour flight.

If I had to purchase another PC laptop now, I would probably try an Asus Zenbook or another top rated Ultrabook. However, be wary of the term Ultrabook, as a lot of PC manufacturers will now call a laptop with a celeron chip and 2gb of ram an Ultrabook just because it has an 11" screen and it's painted silver, and the name is just a marketing term now. Or at the very least, I would try a different brand laptop with equivalent specs and price and hope for better luck with the hardware and better support. Just the fact that Lenovo shipped a new laptop with a broken wifi adapter, and expected me to ship a 3 week old laptop back to them using my own money, and wait 2 weeks for a repaired laptop to be returned to me is enough for me to avoid Lenovo laptops in the future.

It's uncommon these days for a company that deal with electronics to stand by their products and take pride in their work. If that means paying a little more to get that, so be it. Just as people do with cars or other essential product that are used on a daily basis.

If it were simply a single unfortunate hardware malfunction, I would be content to accept that. But with the combination of numerous bugs, design flaws, and worst of all, their poor warranty and service policies, this means they will not be given a second chance by me. Adios Lenovo!


T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher Safe Cookware, 12-Inch, Black
T-fal E93808 Professional Total Nonstick Oven Safe Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan / Saute Pan Dishwasher Safe Cookware, 12-Inch, Black
Price: $36.65
37 used & new from $25.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great all around pan, July 1, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is my go to pan for much of my stovetop cooking needs. Meat, pasta, sauces, vegetables.

What I like is how the handle is bolted to the pan, and not attached by a screw that will get loose and require tightening.

Also my old pan was badly warped and would not sit flat on the burner and food would slip off to the side of the pan. With the extra steel layer on the bottom of this pan, I have reassurance that this pan will not warp, and will stay flat, which should make it last for years.

The best thing about this pan is the non stick surface. You can cook everything like eggs, and all food will easily come off with your regular sponge and soap. No need to do any hard scrubbing with steel sponges or harsh cleaners.

I only wish that this pan came in a size thats 1-2" larger in diameter, and maybe a quarter inch deeper. But this size is just big enough to cook a family size serving.

If you want a great all around pan, you won't go wrong with this. The price is right too.


Apple iPhone 5 Unlocked Cellphone, 16GB, White
Apple iPhone 5 Unlocked Cellphone, 16GB, White
Offered by XIV Wireless
Price: $379.99
200 used & new from $194.73

63 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice improvement over the 4S, May 13, 2013
New Features:

Everyone knows it's lighter and slimmer. Some love it, some think it makes it feel cheap. I carry my phone when I go biking, walking, or running, so I for one welcome the new design. I think the favorite thing for me about the new screen is that it can display an extra row of icons, which means your folders can fit more, and you can have more on one screen. I like to keep everything fitting on one page right there for me to access. The screen is brighter, and color saturation is noticeably better, blacks are blacker, colors are more rich. The phone has LTE which means it will connect to networks faster, and it has 3 microphones, and noise canceling for better audio. The new earbuds are improved (mostly in design, not sound quality) I do wish it came in more colors, but black and white are essential choices, and will do. Hopefully they will bring out more choices, at least Red and Silver.

OS/Interface:

This is the iOS you know and love. Fundamentally the same, but with new features (Siri, Panoramic Photos, Facetime over 3G) Some people complain that it hasn't changed enough since the first iPhone. It's essentially quite simple, which is the aesthetic that defines Apple. How much has OSX changed in the past 7 years? Not much either. If one wanted to change the style of the icons and fonts, they do have the option to jailbreak. What I like about iOS is that there's only as many menus as there needs to be. With Android you will see redundant menus, and see settings more than once in several menus. Also I was peeved by the back button and the way it serves a different purpose depending on the context. Will pressing it take you back to the apps main menu? Or will it close the app? I dont know! Press it and find out! The fact that they made the iPhone work fundamentally with just the one home button is a feat of itself. Widgets are cool to have, but I always ended up disabling them to conserve battery life and cut down cpu/ram usage. The notification menu, and icon badges suffice for quick indications.

Apps:

While both Android and iOS have far more apps than any human could sample in a lifetime, what matters most is quality, not quantity. iPhone has all of the best apps at its disposal, many of which do not exist on Android. Games like Infinity Blade II, SF Volt, Chinatown Wars, Fairway Solitaire, music apps like Animoog, DM1, iKaossilator, and Rebirth, and essential apps like iTunes U, Pages, and iMovie. When I switched to Android, I found that there were a lot of great apps I missed that were not on Google Play store. Since i've switched back to iPhone 5, I did not notice any key apps that are on Android but not on iOS.

Performance:

The first thing I noticed on this new model is how snappy everything is. Tasks are executed fast. Launching apps, pages loading, switching through menus, it does it in a breeze. iOS runs smoothly because it's coded in C, while Android is coded in Java, which has a lot of inefficiencies. I've heard people complain of laggy performance even on the new S4. I believe the overhead of Android's coding is creating a bottleneck, which is why even with a quad core snapdragon, you can still have performance issues. Software is just as important, if not more important, than the hardware. My Sams

Universal Content/Sharing:

I have an iPad, and iMac. If I play a game of Vice City on my iPad, I can continue on the same save on my iPhone when I leave my house. If I made a note with some important info on my iMac, i'll have it on my iPad to refer to, no 3rd party apps needed. If I purchase a universal game, I get it on my phone and tablet. If I am having a text conversation with a friend on my iPhone, I can continue on any other device and see all previous messages. Photos and videos are shared among all the devices as well. I also like that I can facetime with all my friends and family who have an iOS device. When I had an Android phone, I couldn't get everyone to create Skype accounts and get the app.

Reliability/Warranty:

The iPhone has been smooth sailing. With the two Android phones, I had a handful of issues. The phone would often freeze, and I would have to restart. Icons would disappear. Keyboard input lagged. Screen brightness would adjust itself, even though auto brightness was shut off. The only thing i've experienced is the occasional app crashing, which is often the coding of the app itself, not necessarily an iPhone issue.

I like knowing that if I have an issue with the phone, I can go to my local Apple store, and they will either fix it, or replace it with a new one there on the spot. With other manufacturers, they either contract their repairs to a 3rd party business, or they require you to go through the RMA process, ship the phone to them, which can take weeks. If you have an issue that can be resolved over the phone, you will be surprised when you call Apple support and have your call answered by a human being, who's a native english speaker from the United States.

Other:

Being a musician, I like that you have the ability to plug in an instrument (guitar, piano, bass) and use recording, modeling, and effects apps, this opens you up to a whole world of music production. One of the deal breakers with Android is that you can't connect a music instrument due to the latency inherent in the software (maybe this will be resolved in the future). This means apps like GarageBand, Ampkit, Amplitube, JamUP, Nano Studio, are not possible on Android.

I also like the aluminum body, and the distinction that it's currently the only phone that's not plastic. The HTC One claims to, but it's actually an overlay, fused with plastic. Another thing I appreciate is the lack of bloatware. iPhones come with a higher percentage of free space than Android phones, and considering that some of the new Android phones don't have SD card slots, it's significant. Some of them even have 7GB of used space out of the box. Also, Apple products have the highest resale value of any brand. If you do end up deciding to sell your phone in the future, you will get more for it.

Drawbacks:

Screen is smaller than the competing phones
No SD card slot for expanding storage
Camera not equal to some of the other top phones
Speakers pointing down is not a good design
Apple Maps still has issues
Battery life could be better (like all smartphones)
Design could benefit from a refresh

Also iOS does not have a lot of the software features that the new Android versions have. Some of these features are useful, some of them are more of a novelty that look good on paper, and some you will probably never use. But it's nice to have these options. Being able to choose a different default browser, using hand gestures for phone functions, being able to do multiple attachments for emails, these are the more useful ones.

Summary:

This phone is what is best for me, but not everyone of course. We all have different tastes, preferences, and uses. For me, it's the integration with my iPad, and iMac, the integration with my friends and family who have iOS devices, and it is the ability to plug in an instrument for practicing, sketching songwriting ideas, and recording riffs. Also, i'm a semi avid gamer, and having access to the best library of games is significant to me. I also value simplicity, reliability, and smooth performance, over options suited for "power users". In my humble opinion, iOS is a better experience for me. With the past 2 Android phones, I would get enticed by a new model, enjoy them for a 1-2 month honeymoon period, grow disillusioned by it's shortcomings, then go back to an iPhone. I need to stop doing that, as it's not very cheap!

Lastly, I think everyone should try both, before deciding on what platform is best for them. With that said, the iPhone 5 is a good place to start.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2013 4:02 PM PDT


Roland Micro Cube Guitar Amp - Black
Roland Micro Cube Guitar Amp - Black
Offered by AVLGear
Price: $149.00
3 used & new from $97.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cubism, May 11, 2013
Nothing beats the tone of a good tube amp, but when you have stuck up apartment neighbors that are eager to call the cops on you, certain concessions have to be made. This is one of the smallest practice amps around, so I figured it would be a good place to start for late night jams that won't offend anyone elses ears.

One would normally assume that since it's inexpensive, and solid state, that it has crappy tone. Not true. The sound modeling is surprisingly good. Tone is the most important thing for an amp, and this amp has been a big seller for Roland because it sounds good. The other good traits are just bonuses. The clean channel is lush, and warm, and not shrill and cold like other solid state amps. Roland's classic and famous solid state combo, the JC120, is one of the only respected solid state amps that serious musicians use for touring and recording. Whatever magic Roland used in that amp to make the solid state sound good, they put into this combo.

The Vox AC30 like overdrive setting is great for blues, and classic rock. The Marshall JCM600 like stack does hard rock well, and the high gain mode is good for metal. It could be better, but it's still quite useable. It has a small amount of effects. But the effects sound good, and are the essentials. Reverb, Chorus, Delay, Flanger, Tremolo. These settings will cover a lot of ground. The JC setting and Blackface setting sound almost identical to me, aside from lower treble on the Blackface.

One of the only complaints I have about this amp is the awful placement of the power button. The button is small, and placed behind the back. It's difficult to find since you are always facing the front of the amp. But after time, you'll learn where it is and will get to it faster. Also, it's nice that they included a tuning aid, but I never use it. I wish they included a real (even basic) tuner that will tune each individual string and indicate if you are flat or sharp.

A main feature of this amp is of course the fact that it is truly portable and runs on battery power, so you can take it anywhere. Great for playing at the beach, on a camping trip, or a long car ride, or for street musicians. Also, I give them credit for having it run on AA's which are the cheapest and most readily available batteries. Thank god they didn't have them run on D's or AAA's. I also praise Roland for them having the foresight to make this amp louder on battery power. The reason being, people who are using this on batteries are likely using the amp outdoors, or very large open spaces, where the sound won't be bouncing off walls. An amp outdoors requires significantly more volume to have the same effect as one in a small bedroom.

Because it's so small and light, and cordless, I love that I can place it anywhere. I have it chilling on the armrest of my couch, so I can jam along to music videos on TV, or I can place it high on my shelf so that it's further away from my floor so neighbors below me won't hear it. The possibilities are endless. I might even mount it to my bicycle and hook up my iphone to it and use it like a boom box and play my tunes when I ride down the beach trail this summer.

However, plugged in, this amp does not get very loud. Now for my taste and use, it's definitely loud enough. But for people who don't have to worry about noise complaints, and like to crank it, they might be disappointed with where this thing tops out at, but I think everybody should have their expectations in check with an amp that's only 2 watts with a 6" speaker.

The Roland Micro Cube has a deserved reputation for having tank like durability. A well known music gear reviewer on youtube did damage tests where they threw this thing over a brick wall onto concrete, and even poured lighter fluid and set it on fire, and it refused to die until it was completely charred. This little guy can take a lot. If your ex kicks you out of her apartment and throws this out of her 3 story window, it would probably survive the fall.

I also like the headphone jack. I don't find myself needing to use it since the amp is so small, but for people who have someone sleeping in the same room they are in, this is good to have. The built in handle is very comfortable, and thick. That's cool that they included an Aux In jack, though I don't know if i'll use it.

Kudos to Roland for making a great practice amp.


Apple iPhone 5 Unlocked Cellphone, 16GB, Black
Apple iPhone 5 Unlocked Cellphone, 16GB, Black
Offered by XIV Wireless
17 used & new from $212.98

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My experiencing coming from Android phones, May 7, 2013
New Features:

Everyone knows it's lighter and slimmer. Some love it, some think it makes it feel cheap. I carry my phone when I go biking, walking, or running, so I for one welcome the new design. I think the favorite thing for me about the new screen is that it can display an extra row of icons, which means your folders can fit more, and you can have more on one screen. I like to keep everything fitting on one page right there for me to access. The screen is brighter, and color saturation is noticeably better, blacks are blacker, colors are more rich. The phone has LTE which means it will connect to networks faster, and it has 3 microphones, and noise canceling for better audio. The new earbuds are improved (mostly in design, not sound quality) I do wish it came in more colors, but black and white are essential choices, and will do. Hopefully they will bring out more choices, at least Red and Silver.

OS/Interface:

This is the iOS you know and love. Fundamentally the same, but with new features (Siri, Panoramic Photos, Facetime over 3G) Some people complain that it hasn't changed enough since the first iPhone. It's essentially quite simple, which is the aesthetic that defines Apple. How much has OSX changed in the past 7 years? Not much either. If one wanted to change the style of the icons and fonts, they do have the option to jailbreak. What I like about iOS is that there's only as many menus as there needs to be. With Android you will see redundant menus, and see settings more than once in several menus. Also I was peeved by the back button and the way it serves a different purpose depending on the context. Will pressing it take you back to the apps main menu? Or will it close the app? I dont know! Press it and find out! The fact that they made the iPhone work fundamentally with just the one home button is a feat of itself. Widgets are cool to have, but I always ended up disabling them to conserve battery life and cut down cpu/ram usage. The notification menu, and icon badges suffice for quick indications.

Apps:

While both Android and iOS have far more apps than any human could sample in a lifetime, what matters most is quality, not quantity. iPhone has all of the best apps at its disposal, many of which do not exist on Android. Games like Infinity Blade II, SF Volt, Chinatown Wars, Fairway Solitaire, music apps like Animoog, DM1, iKaossilator, and Rebirth, and essential apps like iTunes U, Pages, and iMovie. When I switched to Android, I found that there were a lot of great apps I missed that were not on Google Play store. Since i've switched back to iPhone 5, I did not notice any key apps that are on Android but not on iOS.

Performance:

The first thing I noticed on this new model is how snappy everything is. Tasks are executed fast. Launching apps, pages loading, switching through menus, it does it in a breeze. iOS runs smoothly because it's coded in C, while Android is coded in Java, which has a lot of inefficiencies. I've heard people complain of laggy performance even on the new S4. I believe the overhead of Android's coding is creating a bottleneck, which is why even with a quad core snapdragon, you can still have performance issues. Software is just as important, if not more important, than the hardware. My Sams

Universal Content/Sharing:

I have an iPad, and iMac. If I play a game of Vice City on my iPad, I can continue on the same save on my iPhone when I leave my house. If I made a note with some important info on my iMac, i'll have it on my iPad to refer to, no 3rd party apps needed. If I purchase a universal game, I get it on my phone and tablet. If I am having a text conversation with a friend on my iPhone, I can continue on any other device and see all previous messages. Photos and videos are shared among all the devices as well. I also like that I can facetime with all my friends and family who have an iOS device. When I had an Android phone, I couldn't get everyone to create Skype accounts and get the app.

Reliability/Warranty:

The iPhone has been smooth sailing. With the two Android phones, I had a handful of issues. The phone would often freeze, and I would have to restart. Icons would disappear. Keyboard input lagged. Screen brightness would adjust itself, even though auto brightness was shut off. The only thing i've experienced is the occasional app crashing, which is often the coding of the app itself, not necessarily an iPhone issue.

I like knowing that if I have an issue with the phone, I can go to my local Apple store, and they will either fix it, or replace it with a new one there on the spot. With other manufacturers, they either contract their repairs to a 3rd party business, or they require you to go through the RMA process, ship the phone to them, which can take weeks. If you have an issue that can be resolved over the phone, you will be surprised when you call Apple support and have your call answered by a human being, who's a native english speaker from the United States.

Other:

Being a musician, I like that you have the ability to plug in an instrument (guitar, piano, bass) and use recording, modeling, and effects apps, this opens you up to a whole world of music production. One of the deal breakers with Android is that you can't connect a music instrument due to the latency inherent in the software (maybe this will be resolved in the future). This means apps like GarageBand, Ampkit, Amplitube, JamUP, Nano Studio, are not possible on Android.

I also like the aluminum body, and the distinction that it's currently the only phone that's not plastic. The HTC One claims to, but it's actually an overlay, fused with plastic. Another thing I appreciate is the lack of bloatware. iPhones come with a higher percentage of free space than Android phones, and considering that some of the new Android phones don't have SD card slots, it's significant. Some of them even have 7GB of used space out of the box. Also, Apple products have the highest resale value of any brand. If you do end up deciding to sell your phone in the future, you will get more for it.

Drawbacks:

Screen is smaller than the competing phones
No SD card slot for expanding storage
Camera not equal to some of the other top phones
Speakers pointing down is not a good design
Apple Maps still has issues
Battery life could be better (like all smartphones)
Design could benefit from a refresh

Also iOS does not have a lot of the software features that the new Android versions have. Some of these features are useful, some of them are more of a novelty that look good on paper, and some you will probably never use. But it's nice to have these options. Being able to choose a different default browser, using hand gestures for phone functions, being able to do multiple attachments for emails, these are the more useful ones.

Summary:

This phone is what is best for me, but not everyone of course. We all have different tastes, preferences, and uses. For me, it's the integration with my iPad, and iMac, the integration with my friends and family who have iOS devices, and it is the ability to plug in an instrument for practicing, sketching songwriting ideas, and recording riffs. Also, i'm a semi avid gamer, and having access to the best library of games is significant to me. I also value simplicity, reliability, and smooth performance, over options suited for "power users". In my humble opinion, iOS is a better experience for me. With the past 2 Android phones, I would get enticed by a new model, enjoy them for a 1-2 month honeymoon period, grow disillusioned by it's shortcomings, then go back to an iPhone. I need to stop doing that, as it's not very cheap!

Lastly, I think everyone should try both, before deciding on what platform is best for them. With that said, the iPhone 5 is a good place to start.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2013 7:47 AM PDT


Fender Mustang I 20-Watt 1x8-Inch Guitar Combo Amp
Fender Mustang I 20-Watt 1x8-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing little amp, April 30, 2013
Nothing beats the tone of a good tube amp. But when you live in a small apartment, and you cant turn your Blues Junior past 1 without the neighbors threatening to call the cops, certain concessions have to be made. So I decided I needed a small practice amp. After researching a bunch of amps, and testing them out. I bought this one.

The Good:

Excellent Price
Lightweight and easy to carry around
Headphone Jack is a godsent to have for late night jamming
Extra options like Aux In and Footswitch jack are nice
Fender Fuse software and USB connection gives this amp incredible depth and sound customization
Very loud for a practice amp
Modeling for classic Fender amps is impressively accurate
Looks better than most entry level practice amps, with the classic silver Fender emblem and grillecloth
Built in tuner is convenient and useful
Removable standard power cord easily replaced if chewed up by your cat or dog

The Bad:

The amp has has a few design flaws with the controls. They could have made it more intuitive, but to keep the price down, you have things like, one button that has dual purposes. The effects knobs are supplemented with LED indications which makes it more obtuse. The presets are also split into 3 banks that correspond with 3 color LEDs. Also the effects are not labeled by name, but by A, B, C.. etc, which requires you to learn what they are by memory. There are needlessly two separate volume knobs. One thats independent to the preset, and another that's a master volume for the amp in general, along with a gain job.

The construction reflects its entry level price. The cabinet is not made of wood, but a cheap composite. The amps vinyl covering has some overlay that doesn't look so good. The front panel also has cheap exposed screws. I don't think this amp would survive a fall from more than a few feet.

The control knobs are inactive until adjusted, which means when you do move them, there can be a sudden and drastic jump in the tone, volume, gain, etc... The controls do not indicate the amps settings.

While the clean tones, and overdrive tones sound superb, the high gain presets and sounds are way off. Way too muddy and buzzsaw sounding. I've tweaked it every which way possible, and downloaded the top metal presets from Fender Fuse, and it just doesn't do a good rectifier or JCM900 sound. You will want to use a pedal for any kind of Metallica, Pantera, Korn tones.

Thoughts:

None of my criticisms were dealbreakers for me. Overall this is is one of the best practice amps in this price range. A well known UK guitar store does youtube demos of music gear, and they did a practice amp shootout where they tested this amp along with a Vox Valvetronix, Line 6, and a Roland Cube, and the Mustang was picked as the winner.

Tone is the most important thing for a guitar amplifier. I put my Blues Junior side to side with the mustang on the deluxe reverb setting, and the Mustang was very close tone wise. It has a nice fat tube like sound. Fender clearly has used their expertise to make great modeling for this amp. Also the modulation effects sound great when you play on headphones since it utilizes the stereo. The chorus and phasers sound very lush.

To get the most out of this amp, you will have to be technically inclined. If you're not, you can still enjoy the amp and all it's stock presets, which are still very useful.

I looked at the Boss Micro Cube, and while it does metal and high gain tones better, it can't touch the Mustangs clean tones, or it's wide range of sounds and customizability. The Vox Valvetronix are great sounding amps, but they are notoriously unreliable, and i've seen many of them break and have issues. I think the Mustang is the best for the money.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2013 4:48 PM PST


No Title Available

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So good I bought it twice!, April 7, 2013
I've always been a fan of military style watches with the nylon band. And so this watch was perfect for me. I have a Timex Expedition I purchased when I was a teenager, and over a decade later, I still have it. It still looks good and gets compliments, and it still works perfectly. So I trust Timex watches.

The dial size is just right. It's a good size, but not so huge that it looks goofy. Huge dials are a current trend right now, and if they look ridiculous now, imagine how silly they are going to look in a few years. Classics never die.

The nylon band is very comfortable, as well as easy to take on and off. Unfortunately I have extremely skinny wrists, and this will fit me.

I'm not sure where the movement is made, but it is pretty accurate, and that's what matters. I also like that this watch has indiglo. For such a simple watch, I didn't expect to have this feature, but it is nice to have. Especially for a night owl like myself. Illuminated dials just don't cut the mustard for me!

The price is excellent. I would probably pay twice the asking price. I left this watch behind at a hotel, and when I came back it was gone. I did not hesitate buying it again because I really like it.

My single solitary complaint is that it ticks somewhat loudly. Unless you are wearing this in silence for long periods of time, it shouldn't be an issue.

Overall, this is a great watch for the money.


There's No Business
There's No Business
by Charles Bukowski
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.99
82 used & new from $2.41

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The hilarity is strong in this one, April 6, 2013
This review is from: There's No Business (Paperback)
Bukowski has the knack of portraying ordinary losers, scumbags, and alcoholics down to an artform. This particular short story is one of the funnier Bukowski stories i've read. Like much of his work, it paints a picture of a long forgotten Los Angeles. Long after the golden age of hollywood ended, but before the glitz of blockbuster making, tabloid spawning modern LA. A time when the whole town was a seedy underbelly.

The main character is a beautiful disaster. The theme's present in the story should be depressing and upsetting, but Manny's downward spiral tale of failure is gut busting funny, thanks to the terrific dialogue and dirty insults. This is classic Bukowski.

I felt the illustrations were pretty much unnecessary, but they do no wrong either. Definitely a welcome collaboration for fans of Robert Crumb.

Obviously its a brief read, but a good one, and worthy of being a single publication.


Voguestrap TX48320BK Allstrap 20mm Black Regular-Length Padded Genuine Calf Watchband
Voguestrap TX48320BK Allstrap 20mm Black Regular-Length Padded Genuine Calf Watchband
Price: $8.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bang for your buck!, April 5, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Easy To Install
Comfortable
Inexpensive
Simple and Classic good looks

I have never installed a watch strap on my own before, and I had no problem doing it. All I needed was one of those really fine flat head screwdrivers that are used on tiny screws in eyeglasses and watches.

I have very small wrists, and it has holes far down enough so that the band could fit. Also, the band has 2 straps to hold the slack, which I need because there is a lot of slack on the band due to my small wrists. This way the end of the band isnt sticking out, which looks awful.

The band was comfortable right off the bat. A lot of leather products start off stiff and uncomfortable, and require a break in period. This didnt. Aside from being comfortable, it's also very light.

It has a nice thickness to it so it doesn't look like a $7 strap. Considering that it's genuine calf leather, the price is pretty awesome!

Also, it comes with the spring bar things that connect the strap, incase you aren't using ones from a previously used strap.

All in all, a very good purchase for the price.


Euro Truck Simulator 2 [Download]
Euro Truck Simulator 2 [Download]
Price: $19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Get in touch with your inner trucker, March 30, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Trucking games may have been a very niche thing in the past, but Euro Truck Simulator 2 is so well done, it's a game that can appeal to any gamer who likes any kind of sim game.

On paper the idea of commandeering an 18 wheeler across europe may sound very dull and monotonous, but a better word to describe it would be "relaxing". The presentation is very well done. The world is vast, detailed, and has a wide variety of landscapes. You will trek through busy cities, mountains, plains, farmlands, and suburbs. The 18 wheelers themselves are rendered wonderfully, with painstakingly detailed interiors with fully functioning dashboards. There's a good selection of views to choose from as well.

A big part of what makes this game work so well is the built in internet radio. The selection is also appropriately european streams, which adds to the immersion. As an American, it was refreshing to listen to european streams, and experience the differences of european highways. The weather system is great, and it helps keep the game from feeling to familiar. There is a nice and gradual day/night cycle. You will encounter rain storms, thunder and lightning. Driving at night poses a larger challenge, which is nice to have. You also have to stop and sleep, and if you ignore it, you will start suffering from sleep deprivation and begin to black out.

The game also contains a business/management component where you build your own fleet, hire more drivers, purchase more trucks, and garages, and build your trucking empire. But mostly, the experience is focused on you and your truck. There's also a well done customization and upgrade system where you can improve your trucks performance, and tweak it's looks to your liking.

Also, a major draw to this game is the support for mods, and the community that's releasing them. There are mods that add new areas and expand the world. There are mods that tweak the behavior of the trucks, the sound, the weather. One of my favorites is a mod that gives real world companies logo's in the game, and real company branding on the trucks in the world, which means you can pick up a load from Walmart, and pass by a FedEx truck, which gives the game more realism than seeing fictitious company logos.

You will occasionally run into bugs. This is a fairly complex PC game, and the dev team is quite small. For me, I had issues with the game crashing, and sometimes the AI would act funny, and the motor volume was unusually quiet. The issues are minimal when you do not use mods though. But the bugs were not significant or often enough to turn me off the game. I sunk many hours into this gem.

If you are tired of playing the same old FPS games, and are looking for a new, and different experience, look no further than Euro Truck Simulator 2.


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