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M. Prince "The CoffeeGeek" RSS Feed (Vancouver, BC)
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American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale
American Weigh Scales AMW-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale
Price: $21.92
16 used & new from $19.41

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scale for multiple uses in coffee and espresso brewing, February 24, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought three of these scales for use in a coffee and espresso lab. The oldest of the three is still going strong, even though it has had water splashed on it, and has been in continuous use for two years now.

A new trend in coffee and espresso preparation is weighing everything - your whole beans, your ground coffee, your water, even the shot of espresso you're brewing. Weighing gives a much more accurate measurement than visual ml/oz viewing in a measuring cup or shot glass. This is especially true with espresso, given that crema can be large in volume, thus screwing up a visual measurement of the amount of liquid brewed.

This scale fits the bill, by virtue of the 2kg max weight while still resolving to 0.1g. It's not without its problems, but the price earns it 4 stars from me.

The large weight allowance allows you to put portafilters on it (then tare them out, and weigh the amount of ground coffee in the portafilter). It even allows you to brew a big 8 or 10 cup press pot right on the scale, accurately measuring the water used in grams instead of in mls (1g water = 1ml water).

The display is easy to read; blue with black letters that are readable from most normally used angles.

The tray is wide enough to hold most items I use on it, from press pots to cupping cups; it's a bit small for portafilters, but you can balance them on the scale.

TAREing the scale is very quick; startup is a bit slower, but not bad.

The price is fantastic, and earns an extra star from me just on that basis. If it were $35 or more, it would only get three stars.

Very accurate. I have some calibrated weights and it was bang on, right out of the box.

What's preventing this from being five stars?
- time out is too short. It's 60 seconds, but honestly, that needs to be longer, or at least user-adjustable.
- I had to put non-slip rubber bumpers on the bottom of it - otherwise it slid around too much
- there is a bit of a delay when you add or subtract items from the scale - it's not instant (takes about half a second sometimes to update)

Overall a great scale at the price. Could be better, but there's nothing else currently available that matches it features vs. price.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 12, 2014 9:44 AM PST


American Weigh AMW-2000 Digital Bench Jewelry Food Kitchen Scale 2000 gram x 0.1g
American Weigh AMW-2000 Digital Bench Jewelry Food Kitchen Scale 2000 gram x 0.1g
Offered by The Houseware Shoppe
Price: $28.25
9 used & new from $20.00

45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Display unreadable unless you view at eye level, January 29, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this scale for a very specific purpose - to measure portafilters (for espresso machines) before and after coffee was added to the filter basket. The 2kg weight limit, 0.1g accuracy and the size of the weighing platform all seemed to suit.

Once I received the scale, I found a few disappointments - one is minor, but one is major enough to render the scale unusable for my needs - and since I live in Canada and ordered it to a US address, it just isn't worth the time or money to return the product - so I'm stuck with a $40 lemon - but I do want to make potential purchasers aware of a fairly glaring design problem with the scale:

The display is NOT READABLE from any angle above the scale - you have to actually bend down and get eye level with the scale to read the blue display. If you stand above the scale, or even in front of the scale looking down (as most would, if the scale is on a countertop), all you see is a blank blue display. The manufacturer is using a LED display that has very poor viewing angles.

It is a design flaw on American Weigh's part because they angled the display on this scale - if the display was flat and facing upwards, you'd probably be able to read it no problems. But because it is angled 45 degrees, reading from above shows the exceptionally poor viewing angles this cheap display has.

To use it, everyone in my workspace has to bend down so their heads are at counter height to read the display.

There is also one other minor problem - the scale seems to "float" the weight a bit before settling, especially with heavier items. It can take as much as 5 seconds for the scale to "settle down" at the final weight when I'm doing the portafilter / coffee weighing.

I do not recommend this scale.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2013 2:25 PM PST


Belkin N Wireless Router (F5D8233-4)
Belkin N Wireless Router (F5D8233-4)
15 used & new from $10.95

9 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Has some real problems on a mixed network, January 18, 2008
Recently, we went mostly N-capable in our home, so I needed an N router - and narrowed it down to this choice. I wish I hadn't. We have 2 iMac (aluminum models) in our house, two N-capable notebooks, and some G products (iPod Touch, G wifi stereo, G wifi PSP, etc etc). For all the highspeed stuff we needed for computers, 100% N, except for the router. I've bought this one, and now, I've been through two of these units, and they both exhibited the same problem:

The Belkin will lose the DNS settings being fed to it by my cable modem showing a yellow flashing modem communication problem on its panel. It's completely random too. I can happen during high multi-use traffic, or when no one's home, and nothing's being downloaded or streamed.

The only way to get them back is by unplugging the unit, unplugging the cable modem, waiting 30 seconds, and plugging everything in again.

The problem isn't with the cable modem. It's with the router. I can take the network cable, unplug it from the Belkin, plug it into my iMac, and immediately have DNS / connection settings fed to the iMac and be on the Net. Unplug it from the iMac, replug it into the Belkin, and yellow flashing "modem error" light on the front of the unit starts up again.

I've put in a service email to Belkin about the problem (6 days ago now) and have yet to hear from them. I'm returning the item while I still can, and getting another N capable router from DLink. At least they're good on the customer service side.

I would not recommend this router.


Instant Video To-go
Instant Video To-go
Offered by lakeplacegames
Price: $23.99
3 used & new from $1.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Has promise, but ancient software brings it down, January 8, 2008
I bought this product to convert video for an iPod Touch and an iPod Nano. I expected it to rip DVDs out of the box, and also do the promised 5x conversions (compared to software transcoding).

I was very disappointed to find out this uses an old (2 years old) version of Arcsoft Media's MediaConverter (2.0). There is a 2.5 version available for this, as a paid upgrade ($15) but *do not upgrade* if you own the InstantVideo To Go - version 2.5 of MediaConverter does NOT work with this product - the included version (2.0) is specially programmed to work with the hardware encoder.

And this is why this product is so bad. Yes, it will convert faster than typical software encoder / transcoders (my limited tests show it to be about 2-3x faster, not 5x), but the only software that apparently works with it is 2 years old, only has limited support for "iPod Video" (which won't work with AppleTV, and is lousy for the new iPod Touch and Phone screen reqs) and DOES NOT RIP DVDs out of the box.

Version 2.5 of MediaConverter apparently does most of the above, and also apparently has much more product support (claims 50 devices in the output field, vs 5 in the 2.0 software). It's a shame that you can't upgrade to 2.5 and have it use the InstantVideo To Go - if you do, MediaConverter will do a software-based conversion, taking about 3x longer than 2.0 does.

The Arcsoft software is best described as "janky" poorly designed, poorly documented, and very limited in your encoding options. They seriously need to update this software and I wouldn't recommend anyone buying this hardware encoder until ADS does a major software overhaul for the device.

Also, ADS's website is a bit of a joke. I tried to submit a support ticket to ask about iPod Touch / Apple TV support, and you go through several pages trying to submit a question, only to get to the last page, where it stalls, and never submits the question.

Bottom line: doesn't offer encoding options for newest iPods; doesn't rip DVDs natively; has severely limited encoding options (and half of them are for obscure products), doesn't work with AppleTV, and ADSTech's website support is non-existent. Don't buy, until they update the software.


Presto 09402 MyPod Refillable Replacement Pod (Senseo)
Presto 09402 MyPod Refillable Replacement Pod (Senseo)

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This, along with a good grinder, is a great upgrade for the Senseo, April 9, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been reading through the reviews for the mypod adapter for the Senseo machines, and you can almost immediately tell those who have a good grinder along with it, and those who don't, or those who buy preground. Usually all the bad complaints are from the latter.

The Senseo is actually a quite brilliant and cost effective piece of engineering. It's let down by absolutely horrible coffee marketed by Philips / Sara Lee - some of the worst coffee bought on the open market today. Fortunately, the mypod adapter lets you skip commodity coffee and move on to some of the world's best coffees.

But it too is let down if you don't have a good grinder (think Solis Maestro or better) to go along with it. Fresh ground coffee, ground to the right particle size, is extremely important in any brewed cup, and no less so with this aftermarket adapter.

Grinding to something closer to a moka grind than a drip grind (fairly fine, but not "espresso" fine), 14g of coffee in the pod adapter results in an excellent extraction up to about 5 ounces. Not too shabby when you consider that extraction time is around 50 seconds. The mypod can be used without the paper filters, but in my experience, you need a coarser ground and more coffee to get the same kind of overall cup. Normally I eschew paper filters, but the mypod filters are more "weaves" than a solid mass, and allow some aromatic oils to seep through, something paper normally traps. Also, because it's a loose fit over the bottom of the filter, some brew water goes around the paper sidways, allowing more oils to make it to the cup.

The Senseo, when used with the mypod adapter, produces a fairly decent quality "caffe suisse" style brew. The pump does exert more pressure on the bed of coffee than a moka pot does, but not as much as a true espresso machine does. With the grind I use for it, I generally get a max of six ounces using the "two cup" button; but the extraction time is long enough, and some geniune (albeit very blond) crema is produced - not the false, frothed coffee (not crema) that the Senseo and its original pods produce.

Overall, this is a must have for any Senseo owner, but don't bother unless you have a good grinder to match it up with. And good coffee to use - Folgers isn't good coffee. And make sure the metal part of the filter you see when loading it into the machine is completely clean - it has to form a good seal with the rubber gasket in the Senseo's lid. If any stray coffee grounds are there, you will see leakage and a ruined cup.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 16, 2009 8:20 AM PDT


Victorinox SwissMemory Air Travel 128 MB USB Storage Device
Victorinox SwissMemory Air Travel 128 MB USB Storage Device

3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Was a bit mislead..., July 27, 2005
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Maybe I should read the description better, but I was disapointed to find out, when receiving it, that this is JUST a USB Key with a pen and anemic led light.

No "swiss army stuff". Not even a knife. I thought all swiss army knives are supposed to have, you know, a knife?

That said, the USB key is very tiny, almost too small on its own (detached from the swiss army non-knife housing), so it's good it has a "home" within the casing, otherwise it would probably go missing.


No Title Available

75 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A product that shows the bleeding edge of technology, June 15, 2005
I bought the Sony Vaio T250L, the percursor to this model; the T350 series is the T250, but with the addition of 3G connectivity to the Bluetooth and WiFi. Every other spec is the same.

I'm an ultralight fanatic. My first ultralight was a ThinkPad 560 series (which is still going strong today in a friend's good use); then a Fujitsu P1120 (smallest computer I ever owned), then an IBM Thinkpad X30 (anyone want to buy it :)); then a Fujitsu P2140, but only briefly (the right shift key is too small for me - I only use that key for shifting)... then finally what was, to be frank, an impulse purchase, the Vaio T250L. I was in Portland on a mini vacation, and happened to read the Fry's colour weekend ad in the local paper. Bam - there was the T250L for $200 off retail. As we all know, Sony products *rarely* are sold below Sony's directive pricing, so I decided to drive the 25 miles to the Fry's to check it out. Once I got there, I fell in love with the shape, size and functionality. I fooled around with it for a while, but even at $1999, I hesitated. Then the sales dude said they had an open box they could sell for $150 less ($1,750); still brand new - it was shipped via mail order, but the receiver refused the shipment - not even techically opened (but it had all the US Postal Service stickers on the box).

So I jumped. Bought it. No regrets. But I do have a list of highlights and things I wish they'd make better or change.

The Good Stuff:

- screen is stunning. Xbrite had me worried at first - it's so reflective, all mirror like, I thought it'd be hard to see in daylight. Nope. I've sat at outdoor cafes in midday sun and can read the screen.

- built in all media dvd burner - plus, minus, don't matter. Can't believe a 3lb wonder has a built in DVD!

- extended battery included. I've managed a seven hour session with this notebook so far on battery juice. Mind you, it was mostly writing for a day (Word!), which is low brain cell usage for the Pentium Centrino chip, and lo HD use, but sweeeeet. And man - I can't believe a 3lb wonder includes in that weight an extended battery!

- WiFi b/g and bluetooth built in. I know this is becoming more standard and centrino chips are wifi by default, but I still find it cool.

- Ports galore! Unlike the super sexy X505, all the ports are built into this model.

- Widescreen! Widescreen is the only way to go. And IMO, anything between 10.4 and 12.1 widescreen is perfect.

- Played two DVDs back to back on one battery charge. Now that's something.

- WiFi and BT can be turned off. Bonus for extra battery use.

- Keyboard layout is good - not as good as the Thinkpads of the world, but much better than the Fujitsus of the world. Ditto on the keyboard feel - it's no Thinkpad, but it's good. My typing speed on a thinkpad is about 95wpm. On the Sony, it's about 80 so far, and catching up.

- Looks. It's got it baybee. The dark blue / silver model is lush.

- DVD Buttons on the spindle are sweet, and useful.

- Touchpad - well, this will make my negative list (touchpads in general), but I do like how the right side of the touchpad is like a virtual scroll wheel.

- Firewire. I likey!

- Quiet - no fans... so quiet in fact that the DVD sounds louder than it really is when it spins up.

- And last, but not least - weight. 3 freakin' pounds. With a DVD Burner. It doesn't get better than this and still remain usable.

All good stuff. But there's some things I wish Sony would fix / change / eliminate:

- memorystick only slot built in. Sony. Sony. sony. Time to give up the pipe dream. The world doesn't own memory sticks. At the very least, it should have been a MMC / Smart Media / SD / Memory Stick multi device.

- Touchpads. I hate touchpads. I'm a speed and accuracy demon with pointer sticks (the lil' nubs in the middle of thinkpads and the mini fujitsus). You put a pointer stick on the x505 - why not on the T250/350?

- Sony... sony... sony! Time to ditch all that extra software you throw on the device, and just give us a CD with the extra crap to load if we want. And I swear, if I ever see another "install AOL now!" on my HD, I'm gonna scream. It took me a literal half a day just to uninstall all the useless crap Sony puts on these machines. Half of it is trialware that requires an uninstall anyway if you don't buy! Should I send a bill to Sony for my lost productivity time dealing with this? Hrmmm I smell a potential class action brewin! Just kidding - I'm Canadian. We don't do class actions much.

- No case? It's a unique computer. Sony you include nice slip cases for the X505, why not for the T2x and T3x series?

Actually, there's not a helluva lot to complain about this bad boy. I personally think it's the best thing going in ultra portables today - nothing with a built in DVD burner is smaller and still usable. Change to a trackpoint, ditch the crap extra software, and enhance the card reader, and it's absolutely perfect. Right now, it's nearly perfect.


Tivoli Audio Model Three AM/FM Clock Radio, Cherry/Metallic Taupe (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Tivoli Audio Model Three AM/FM Clock Radio, Cherry/Metallic Taupe (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Wizard-Electroland
Price: $349.99
4 used & new from $119.99

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful - But with good points and bad., December 27, 2004
I heard a friend's Model One Tivoli, and was sold, so I decided to buy the Model Three and the Dual Alarm / Second Speaker unit for my bedroom, to replace a very cheap and unreliable alarm clock radio.

So for $200 what do you get? Well, you get a modified version of the Model One / Model Two Tivoli, and a clock radio with a sleep timer and wake to Aux / Radio / Alarm function. To be frank, I can't figure out how Tivoli justifies an extra $100 for a battery operated quartz clock insert that has barely advanced features (setting time is electronically controlled - that's about it). In retrospect, the sensible in me would probably not make the same purchase again - instead, I'd opt to get the Model Two unit, and a nice alarm clock (though the style wannabe in me probably would - getting an all in one unit). Tivoli simply doesn't have enough "omph" or value for the dollar tossed in with the addition of the clock functions for the extra hun.

But let's break down the positives and negatives.

Positives: Sound quality kicks big time with lots of base in the unit (single speaker, dual speakers, even without the sub). FM radio, when dialed in right, sounds like near CD quality to my ears (with a caveat - see below). "Action" on the tuning dial is sweet with the 4x stepped down gearing. Clock is fairly readable, though it is pretty recessed into the case, so from an angle, it's hard to see the hours well, esp. in the dark. Ability to plug in your iPod or other mp3 player to the Aux, hook up a sub, hook up a second speaker (or as I've done, the Model Three Dual Alarm second speaker) and other hookups - wowsa for a clock radio! Ability to record audio is good as well - I have an MP3 player / fm receiver thingie, and when I compare FM radio recordings made with the device on its own, and with the audio in ability, recording the Tivoli's FM radio, there is no comparison - the Tivoli's FM sound quality is stellar (with a caveat - again, see below)

Negatives: People proclaim the Tivoli's ability to pull in FM signals. I haven't experienced this as well as i expected - some local stations sound hissy and tinny on the Tivoli, but in my '04 Jetta (with a radio that's often panned), they sound better. Where's this legendary FM ability across the dial? That said, when a station is pulled in by the Tivoli, it sounds (to my untrained ear at least) like big base CD quality. Other negatives: The 120 second "bug" in the design for the snooze feature has caused me to sleep in a few times (see another review for more info). Yes Tivoli - that is a major design flaw. The decision on fonts and font colours makes the tuning dial and other labels on the front of the box almost unreadable in most bedroom light. And as mentioned above, the clock functionality is not worth the extra $100 in price - maybe $30, maybe $40.

But it does look goooooood. :) And the sound is stellar - rivals my other sound systems in the house costing $100s more.


Pentax Optio S4i 4MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom
Pentax Optio S4i 4MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom
5 used & new from $47.92

145 of 147 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's almost all I expected it to be!, April 7, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
So the deal is, I shoot photography in a professional capacity. I recently moved to all digital in my SLRs, which has resulted in some pretty satisfying results. I get awesome picture quality, superb tools for post processing, and no longer really have to hassle with developing film. But one thing was missing... convenience and portability.
My pro kit bag weighs in at about 17 pounds fully loaded. My camera and lens of choice weighs in at over four pounds just on its own, and it's hardly what I'd call pocketable. So I started searching for an ultra small, ultraslim camera to do the trick.
My search took me to a variety of "influencer" sites including dpreview and others. I read like a madman. I looked at picture quality. I read comments by current users. And I weighed positives against negatives. My choice was narrowed down to the Pentax Optio s4 and I was about to buy, when I found out the new s4i was coming out. It made my choice a lot easier. I'll outline more below.
I placed a preorder on Amazon, and took delivery of one of the first shipping models. I guess that's extreme early adopter for you - the camera wasn't even supposed to be available till April 1, but I had mine in my hands by April 2. I've used it for five days now, and while that's a short time to evaluate something, it's long enough for me to give it a thumbs up. Here's what I like:
Extreme Small Size: This is one of the smallest digicams on the market, but it's ruggedly built with lots of aluminum and metal surfaces.
Large (relative) LCD: a big step up from the s4 is the 1.8" LCD on the s4i. May not seem large, but considering the small size of this camera, it's massive.
Streaming Video: very important feature for me. My previous digicam (before I went dSLR) was an Olympus C-5050, and I loved the fact I could fill a memory card with one long video. This one lets me do it too.
Image quality's okay: at ISO 50 and 100, images are good, colour tone is decent. At 200 it's losing me, and at 400, it's terrible, but at least it goes to 400 ISO. The lens quality's okay too - nothing's changed from the s4 model, and the sample images you can find online show it's a decent snapshot capture device.
"Stupid" Modes: Normally I'm not a fan of what I call "stupid" modes - you know, put the camera into a mode where the camera makes decisions for you (ie Museum mode, Night shot mode, Portrait mode), but I like the versatility in some of the modes on this camera. My faves so far: 3D mode, food mode (works well!), text mode and digital filter mode (I like taking a picture of myself as someone skinny!).
"Lifestyle" Features: on top of being a digicam, this camera has additional lifestyle perks. It has a capable audio recorder mode (which I plan to use while conducting interviews for articles I write). It has a world clock function (though accessing it is a bit of a pain, unless you map it to the quick button). It has not one, not two, but three alarms, which can be set for once or daily (hey nice feature - a $350 travel alarm clock!).
There are some negatives:
Shot to shot performance: in a word, it blows. This thing can take a first shot quick (lag time is very short). But in "high speed" frame mode, you're lucky if you can get one shot every two seconds or more. Maybe if you have it set to manual focus or something.
CCD is tiny = Grain, Chromatic distortions: because the CCD inside is so small, you end up with pictures with grain in continuous colour areas, and you see a lot of purple fringing in photos with high contrast.
It may be too small: I've got big mitts. This thing feels like it's so small, it may fall out of my hands at times. The textured alum on the front helps though.
Overall.
I wasn't expecting a camera that could rival a Nikon D70 or a Canon Eos Digital Rebel in image quality, and you shouldn't either. But if you want a good quality camera for taking snapshots, movies, recording audio (sounds good too), and something you can wear around your neck or make disappear in your pocket, this is the model to beat. I'm very happy with the purchase.


Black & Decker VB100 Vacuum Brew 10-Cup Coffeemaker
Black & Decker VB100 Vacuum Brew 10-Cup Coffeemaker

4.0 out of 5 stars Actually, a great product - once you learn how to use it., December 21, 2003
I've been reading the Amazon reviews for the B&D Vacpot, and it's clear to me in some of them that people do not understand the fundamental differences between a vacuum brewer and a more tradiditional auto drip coffee maker.
The Infuze works very well as a vacuum brewer. It certainly brews hot enough, and I have found the steep time is almost perfect for a full pot (though way too long for a 4 cup pot should you choose to make so little coffee).
The complaints about "defective" switches are mainly user error situations - yes, it would be good if the secondary switch on the kettle portion had more clearly defined zones between "brewing" and "off", but that's why there's a light above it. Simply press down nice and even, and it's on. When I first got the Infuze, I too didn't know how that switch worked - I pushed, prodded, lifted, nothing happened and it seemed flimsy. But sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious - simply push down and it's good to go.
Other complaints like you have to sit it in one position for it to work - not true. I would attribute most of those situations to user error, and not reading the manual.
The design of the kettle interior is fairly inovative with regards to vac pots - the multiple surface levels in the bottom is reminiscent of an old Faberware Coffee Robot design from the 1930s (when Faberware was good!) and it does the job of maintaining steep times well.
The filter's nothing to write home about, but comparable to the Bodum eSantos filter.
The kickdown phase is a bit drawn out, which does concern me a bit. Ideally, it should take about half the time it currently does (About 2.5 minutes in one test).
The afterburners (as we like to call the after-brew heating at CoffeeGeek) is dangerous - it's too hot, and definitely damages the coffee after a short period. My recommendation is to brew, shut the thing off, and pour the brewed coffee into a thermal carafe.
All in all, the coffee is EXCELLENT from this product, when it is used properly by someone who pays attention to what they're doing and knows how a vac pot works.


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