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Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo
Price: $179.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid voice tech and continuous updates, June 19, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Amazon Echo (Electronics)
I initially bought the echo to add stuff to my family's shopping list. Whenever we run out of stuff, being able to dictate what we need to buy is a cool, nice to have feature. Some of the other initial capabilities are useful as well, like weather reporting and so on, but I went in knowing it was all a bit of a novelty.

And then the echo got smarter. Every week or so Amazon rolls out new features for my echo – announced through a straight forward product email – that enhances its capabilities. Sometimes they are minor new features, other times they are ground breaking.

The one that changed my rating from a 3 to a 5 was when then announced "Connected Home" integration. Since I have Hue light bulbs throughout my house, I am now able to dictate what lights I want to turn on or off. It is so freakin' cool: When I sit down to turn on a movie, I say "Alexa, set the living room lights to 25 percent", and nearly instantly the lights fade. I do the same to turn them on and off, and I use the capability at least once or twice every day. Even my wife has picked it up!

From a core tech perspective, the voice recognition and processing is amazing. It is somewhat scary how quickly and accurately commands are understood. Using the echo app, you can actually see all of the the voice-to-text translation history and help improve the algorithm by indicating if echo heard you correctly or not.

From a privacy perspective, I was always a little weary of the fact that there would be this thing listening to me all of the time with a direct line to Amazon. However, there are very clear visual indications of when it is listening after you say its activation word. Granted, it could be "hacked" or used maliciously, but that is the same risk you have with any connected device that contains a microphone, which includes smartphones, computers, and even TVs (e.g. the whole Samsung thing).

Ultimately, the echo has exceeded my expectations in so much that the team behind it is continuing to innovate in creative and useful ways on a rapid clip.

ASICS Men's Gel kayano 21 Running Shoe,White/Lightning/Flash Yellow,12 M US
ASICS Men's Gel kayano 21 Running Shoe,White/Lightning/Flash Yellow,12 M US
Price: $119.95
16 used & new from $115.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, April 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Very comfortable shoes; great upgrade from Kayano 19!

Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation
Nest Learning Thermostat, 2nd Generation
Price: $249.00
57 used & new from $194.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Nest is great, but needs Skylark app built in, January 30, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The nest thermostat is awesome: it is truly the first real connected home device that just makes sense and works.

My one gripe with it though is the lack of geo-fencing capabilities out of the box. My schedule simply isn't consistent enough for the learning algorithms (no matter how good they are) to accurately predict when to turn on and turn off my Nest.

Fortunately I found an app called Skylark that does just that. It allows me to set a leaving and arriving virtual boundary around my house to set my Nest to home and away. It supports multiple devices (so everyone has to be gone for it to go to away) and is super simple and has been really reliable so far.

Other than that, Nest is just awesome. I can control it remotely and I have moved between two apartments and set up was easy in both places. I can't recommend it highly enough!

ASICS Men's GEL-Kayano 19 Running Shoe,Black/Red/Lime,12 M US
ASICS Men's GEL-Kayano 19 Running Shoe,Black/Red/Lime,12 M US
Offered by Teamstores

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great upgrade from Kayano 18, April 16, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been using the Kayano shoe for a long time and this model does not disappoint. The day I received them, I went for a 6 mile run without skipping a beat coming from my Kayano 18s. They are noticeably lighter but have the same support and cushion as the previous models.

I particularly like the Kayano line because they work great with my custom orthotics. The removable insole is easily replaced with mine, and the geometry of the shoe compliments my running form.

To me, the quality, durability, and fit of the shoe absolutely justifies the price.

Withings WiFi Body Scale, White
Withings WiFi Body Scale, White

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful way to track health trends, July 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I researched this scale extensively before purchasing it, and immediately noticed the complaints about the fat / BMI measurements being inconsistent. With that in mind, I still went ahead with the purchase.

Since I received the device, I have used it every day. The set up was really easy, and it has worked reliably every single time. The weight measurements are accurate and precise, and being able to see the trend overtime on my iOS devices the web interface is pretty cool.

As for the the fat measurements, if you are looking for accurate results, it just isn't going to happen. The limitation isn't necessarily due to the Withings device or software, but due to the nature of the technology. The problem is the method used by this scale (and the majority of other fat/BMI measurement scales) to capture fat mass simply cannot get a big enough picture of your body composition to give you a spot on number. With any foot-based BMI scale, you can typically expect a margin of error of 5% - 10%. The only real way to get an accurate number is to use calipers or other fat measurement systems that are not as simple as simply standing on a scale...

That said, the results are relatively precise enough (over enough readings over time) to give a good idea of trending. Personally, my motivation for buying the scale was to be able to measure the effectiveness of my new workout routine over time. Sure enough, between individual readings, the values seem to jump all over the place. But, looking at trends over time, I get a pretty clear picture of my relative fat mass.

I am pretty sure this is the intent of the software developers because they treat weight reading and fat mass readings differently in terms of graph plotting. On the weight graph, they provide a very discreet weight trend line, because the values captured from the scale are accurate and precise. However, on the fat graph, a discreet trend line isn't provided; instead a "fat" trend line (covering about 2% in values at any point in time) that encompasses the range of readings is provided. This allows you to quickly see the overall trend and see "past" the jumpy individual data points.

Overall, I am very happy with the purchase. The hardware and software work perfectly together and the experience has been very seamless. There simply isn't another scale out there that makes data capture and logging so easy (and fun)!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2011 6:55 AM PDT

Icy Dock EZConvert 2.5-Inch to 3.5-Inch SATA SSD / Hard Drive Converter
Icy Dock EZConvert 2.5-Inch to 3.5-Inch SATA SSD / Hard Drive Converter
Price: $12.11
60 used & new from $9.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Fit, January 30, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I needed a 2.5" to 3.5" SATA drive adapter to allow me to install a new SSD drive into my MacPro. The SSD slides into the adapter and is locked into place upon closing it, without any tools required. All I had to do was use a screwdriver to secure the adapter into the drive chassis provided by Apple (the adapter fit perfectly), slid it into my MacPro, and it was up and working. The installation is very clean and easy, I recommend it!

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