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Customer Reviews: 364
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Jeff Kraus RSS Feed (Orlando, FL USA)
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Elini Barokas Men's ELINI-20002-01-BB Spirit Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch
Elini Barokas Men's ELINI-20002-01-BB Spirit Analog Display Swiss Quartz Black Watch
Price: $118.03
2 used & new from $114.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Get rid of that "12" and it would look better., February 10, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's very little wrong with the Spirit design. The flaws that it has, in my mind, are merely ones of personal preference. It's a heavy, solidly built timepiece, and the black and chrome looks really nice. The rubber wristband is soft and doesn't pull uncomfortably on your arm hair.

I personally don't care for the big red "12" on the glass, I feel like it detracts from the interesting design on the face. I also wish it was a little smaller. I know many guys love their massive watches, but to me 49mm is just overboard unless you've got tree trunk arms. If you've got tree trunk arms, then awesome! If not, maybe look for something smaller.

Other than those points of preference though, there's really nothing wrong with the watch itself.


Stanley Men's Dexterous 6 Inch Steel Toe Work Boot, Brown, 10 W US
Stanley Men's Dexterous 6 Inch Steel Toe Work Boot, Brown, 10 W US
Price: $63.29

4.0 out of 5 stars They run big, but they're industrial strength., February 8, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I feel like these are going to take quite a while to properly break in, so comments regarding flexibility and long-term comfort are going to have to wait until that happens.

These boots are severely heavy duty. The heel even has a thick rubber protective patch over it. They're big and heavy. The sole is thick enough that I had to move the driver's seat one extra "click" back in the Jeep. They're tall, too. When my foot is hovering over the clutch, the toe actually hits the cables routed under the steering column. The size of them has taken some getting used to, and after a week or so I've finally stopped tripping over everything.

I love the way they look, and the fact that they're waterproof has already proven useful a couple of times. They run big, which is my main concern. Shoes that I have from other companies are almost always the right size at 10.5 for me, but these run a bit too big despite actually being a size 10. I plan to buy some inserts to help with this.

The ankle support is pretty good if you have thick ankles. I'm on the thinner side, so there's a little room around the ankles that I can't quite take up by tightening the laces. Everything is just so thick that it doesn't conform very well.

Laces are a mild concern... they are good laces but the top of the boot uses metal hooks, which in my experience have always worked very well as shoelace shredders. Directly below the hooks is a pair of fabric loops, I have no idea why those were used instead of metal eyes like the rest of them but I hope they're strong enough to last.

I'll update the review once these have fully broken in, but so far I like them.


Pedco Ultrapod Grip Lightweight Tripod
Pedco Ultrapod Grip Lightweight Tripod
Price: $20.64
5 used & new from $17.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stronger than most, not a miracle worker. I like it., January 20, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Okay, so it's better than I thought and I have to disagree with some of the other reviewers. It's sturdier than a normal plastic. It CAN be used for DSLRs (of course there are limitations to that, but the same could be said for inexpensive full sized tripods too). And I'm happy with the current price, considering the quality.

Here's the thing. It says it can handle a camera up to 6 lbs (2.7 kg), and it can. How do I know that? Well, it just so happens that I have a camera that weighs in at 2.5 kg. I've added photos. This is, of course, assuming that you have a tripod mount near the center of gravity. So you can't use the body tripod mount with a big 70-200 f/2.8 lens or else it will tip over. In a case like that you need to use the mount on the lens itself.

Also, with that kind of weight it is shaky if you touch it. The camera won't fall, but there's definite "bounce" from being so top heavy. Factor that in and make sure that if you have a heavy camera, you're using some type of remote release or a self-timer.

You're not going to be able to mount something like that on a pole or other structure, because there just isn't enough clearance between the object and the tripod mount. A smaller, lighter DSLR would fit though.

I love the light weight and the small footprint. I've never had much luck with the strength of those GorillaPods, but this one suits my needs just fine.
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Kala MK-SWB Makala Waterman Ukulele Aqua Blue
Kala MK-SWB Makala Waterman Ukulele Aqua Blue
Offered by Chicago Music Exchange
Price: $39.99
17 used & new from $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great plastic uke!, January 15, 2016
Keep your expectations firmly in check -- it's an all-plastic ukulele for $39. But overall I'm happy with it. To me, it sounds noticeably colder, more "hollow" than the Kala KA-15S or the Kala KA-S. But obviously, if I'm going to be somewhere where it might get wet or damaged, this is the ukulele that I want to have with me. And it does still sound good, particularly at "normal" volumes. Start playing it hard, and you may notice the strings start to get buzzy. They also seem to slide around on the frets more, so you need to be a little more careful to press straight down; if you press at an angle, you risk sliding the string sideways and changing its tone.

Yes, the paint wears off of the fret. I don't care about that one bit because it doesn't affect the playability. Yes, the strings do stay in tune after the break-in period. It seems that some people don't realize that it takes a while before the strings settle in to where they need to be. You'll need to tune the strings constantly for a week or two, but at some point it will stop being necessary. That said, there is one thing I've noticed that applies to this ukulele but not my other (wood) one. There have been a couple of occasions where I've picked it up and checked the strings with the tuner, and every single one of them is off by the same amount. The first time it happened, each string was two "marks" low on the display scale of the tuner. I re-tuned all of the strings so they were correct, and then the next day all of them were two marks too HIGH on the tuner scale, so I had to re-tune them again back to where they were.

The next time it happened, all of them were a little low again. I didn't touch anything this time, and the next day they were back to being correctly tuned. Could it be that the instrument is expanding/contracting ever so slightly with changes in temperature? Since all strings were affected by the same amount (and will self-correct if left alone), that's the only thing I can think of.

Anyway, that's only happened twice since I got it, so I'm not worried about it. The only other annoyance is the zero fret, which sometimes requires more pressure for the first fret than I'd like.

All things considered, it's a great basic uke for the beach, camping, kayaking, or wherever you'd be afraid to take a better instrument. But if you're not looking for an all-weather instrument, you'd be better off getting a good wooden uke.


SteelSeries Rival 100, Optical Gaming Mouse - Forged Red
SteelSeries Rival 100, Optical Gaming Mouse - Forged Red
Price: $39.99
25 used & new from $39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I love this thing., January 12, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I guess I just didn't realize how good a decent mouse could feel at this price point. This mouse replaces my [ASIN:B0095D1CM8 Mad Catz R.A.T. 7 Gaming Mouse], which weighs in at four times the price. I certainly did enjoy that mouse when I first got it, but since then it has become a nightmare of tracking issues, skips, and registering single clicks as double clicks. I started to hate it, even if it did look like something out of a terrible Michael Bay sequel attempting to cash in on my childhood.

So now I have this SteelSeries mouse, which thankfully uses the same configuration software as my [ASIN:B00MSOEWQY Elite Prism Headset]. The software allows you to set the resolution and all of the other options like the button configuration. It supports profiles, allowing you to change based on what you're doing. You can pick any of the millions of colors for the light, or define a fade or flash pattern that transitions between colors.

Honestly, I don't care much about that. When I'm not using it and the computer goes to sleep, the light turns off. When I'm using it, my hand is on it. So I don't really care about that light. What I DO care about is how smooth the mouse feels. From an ergonomics standpoint, it might be just a tad too small for my hands (although admittedly this could just be because I'm used to the large R.A.T. 7). It hasn't exhibited any of the issues my old mouse had, and it tracks way better with no skipping.

At this price, it seems like a pretty great deal, and I have yet to find anything that would be considered a criticism.


Pacific Image Elect PrimeFilm XA Automatic 35mm Film & Slide Scanner
Pacific Image Elect PrimeFilm XA Automatic 35mm Film & Slide Scanner
Offered by Adorama Camera
Price: $399.00
3 used & new from $399.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely cannot be beaten for the price. Film lovers, rejoice., January 8, 2016
I will concede some of the points made by the people who rated this scanner poorly. It's not all happiness and roses. But if you can bear with me I'll try to explain my rating. If you can't, here's the short version: as of this review this scanner is without exception the best scanner you can buy for 35mm film for under $1500.

So let's get into it.

I'll get into the usage, quirks and whatnot below, but let's get the numbers out of the way first.

-- Resolution --

As is the case with just about any scanner, the "10,000 dpi" resolution claimed by the manufacturer is bogus. I've tested it, and you can't make out any new information beyond about 5000 dpi. If you scan the same frame twice, once at 5000 dpi and the other at 10000 dpi and compare them, there is zero additional detail in the bigger one. So save your sanity (5000 dpi is faster) and save your hard drive. Scan no higher than 5000 dpi.

And don't think that you're really getting shortchanged here, because all manufacturers inflate their numbers. You'll see below. The important thing is how the PrimeFilm XA's ACTUAL resolution compares to the competition. For these comparisons, I'm using data presented by filmscanner.info, a site that does its own testing of scanners to determine resolution figures and effectiveness of other features like dust removal, color accuracy, etc. I've picked some of the best film scanners available for comparison, along with a couple that are in the same price range. Remember that these are not marketing numbers; they are actual, tested maximum resolution figures.

Pacific Image PrimeFilm XA ($399): 4300 dpi
Pacific Image PrimeFilm XE ($299): 4100 dpi
Plustek OpticFilm 8200i ($350): 3250 dpi
Nikon CoolScan V ED (discontinued, ~$800 used): 3900 dpi
Nikon CoolScan 5000 ED (discontinued, ~$1500 used): 3900 dpi
Nikon CoolScan 9000 ED (discontinued, ~$3500 used): 3900 dpi
Epson Perfection v800 Photo ($650): 2300 dpi
Canon CanoScan 9000F Mk II ($170): 1700 dpi

Now, 100 dpi here and there for a transparency scanner isn't going to make a huge difference. But once you take price and convenience into account (buying a used CoolScan can be a hassle because of their age), the two best options clearly seem to be the PrimeFilm XA and the PrimeFilm XE. If you scanned a 35mm frame with the XA at exactly 4300 dpi, then in digital camera terms, you'd have a 24 megapixel image. Scanning at 4100 dpi on the XE would result in a 23 megapixel image. Not a huge difference. Personally, on my XA I scan at 5000 dpi to have a little overhead.

No, it's not going to look as perfect and sanitized as a frame coming off of a modern 24 megapixel DSLR. If you're in it for pure, pixel-peeping image quality, you need to get out of the film game. On the other hand, this is at or near the limits of what a 35mm frame is capable of, from a resolution standpoint. If you're used to scanning film on a lesser scanner (like I was, my other scanner is a 9000F Mk II), then I can tell you that your jaw will hit the floor when you see what you've been missing. You really are getting everything you can with this scanner.

-- Software --

The XA comes with Silverfast 8 and Cyberview. I really can't stand Cyberview, it's just plain terrible. I use it only when absolutely necessary (more below) and I hate every second of it. Plus it installs an older version of a Microsoft DLL without checking to see if a newer version already exists on the system. This means the newer version gets replaced by the older version, and all of a sudden Photoshop and some other applications stop working. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Just search for the error on Google and follow Microsoft's instructions to reinstall the correct DLL.

Silverfast 8 has a bit of a learning curve, and it's sloppily executed, but it's functional and overall far superior. It comes with preloaded film profiles and has a number of really useful options. Stick to Silverfast when scanning, at least as much as possible.

-- Batch Scanning --

Since the resolution figures are so close between the XA and the XE, one of the biggest reasons to spend the extra $100 on the XA is for the batch scanning feature. I develop most of my film at home, so I can can just run the entire uncut roll through the XA and come back in an hour or so. Far less tedious than scanning frame by frame! At least, that's what I thought.

So here's why I currently need Cyberview. The "starter" version of Silverfast (SE) that's bundled with the scanner doesn't support batch scanning. So the only way to make use of this feature is to use Cyberview. Which I hate. Besides, I want the added control provided by Silverfast. And I'm not ready to plunk down the significant money required to upgrade Silverfast to the Ai Studio version that supports batch scanning.

So I figured I could run the entire roll through Cyberview in batch mode at a lower resolution (for speed purposes) like 1200 dpi, and then I can look through the results and pick out the frames I want to scan one by one in Silverfast. That's a valid option, but batch mode actually scans a preview scan of each frame before the actual scan. So it's scanning each frame twice! And it's doing some other weird computations that I don't even know. It's ridiculous and takes forever. Plus, the auto-feed is easily confused. it has a hard time finding frame edges (especially when the negatives aren't very dense) and ends up off-center way too often. And it seems that once it gets off-centered, every subsequent frame is affected. Once the batch scan starts, you can no longer make manual adjustments to the frame centering. This feature definitely needs work. As it stands right now (possibly later firmware updates might help with this?) I think it's better to save the $100 and get the XE without the batch scanning, because I haven't found it very useful.

Also, I can't say whether or not the Silverfast Ai Studio batch scanning capability is better than the CyberView version, since I haven't upgraded my Silverfast SE yet. It's possible that Silverfast might do a better job, I just don't know. It certainly can't be worse.

-- Dust & Scratch Removal --

Best I've ever seen. Honestly, I don't know what else to say. It slows down the process a little more, but it's worth it. I'm used to seeing the image quality be slightly affected by these types of tools and so I have always turned it off in favor of manually cloning out dust in Photoshop. But this scanner does such an amazing job that for the life of me, I haven't been able to find a single issue with it. I have been converted. Just try it once and you'll agree with me. The only down side to this is that it's not useful for black & white negatives (C-41 B&W is okay I think, just not "real" B&W) because of makeup of the negative.

-- Speed --

It's slow. Especially if you turn on dust removal. Expect a couple of minutes per scan. I thought that was really slow at first, but it's not terrible. I just run a scan, and then run a second scan while I'm working on the first one in Photoshop. That way I'm not just sitting around waiting.

-- Hardware --

The scanner is quite light, and pretty small. It makes a lot of weird noises, but they're normal. Placing a negative strip on one side will cause the scanner to suck it in and bring the first frame into the viewing window. From there, you can use the forward/reverse buttons to either adjust the centering (short presses) or move forward or back a whole frame (long press). Press and hold the eject button to spit the negative strip out. The viewing window is pretty brightly lit, so it's not difficult to correctly center the negative despite the fact that the view is partially obscured by moving parts.

-- Summary --

If you think you'll want to use the batch scanning feature at some point, then this is currently the absolute best 35mm scanner you can buy for the money. If you don't care about batch scanning, then the difference between the XA and the XE is probably not worth the extra $100. Consider getting the XE. Or splurge a little, I don't know. Whatever your choice, you can't go wrong from a scan quality standpoint.

To be honest, for me this scanner is about to cost me even more money. Why? Well, I shoot both 35mm and medium format film. One medium format 6x7 frame is four times the size of one 35mm frame. Since I can't scan medium format negatives on this scanner, I have to resort to my Canoscan 9000F Mk II flatbed scanner. Here's the kicker: Without any shadow of a doubt, a 35mm frame scanned with the PrimeFilm XA results in a higher quality, sharper, and larger result than a 6x7 negative scanned with my 9000F Mk II. I can hardly believe it! Now I have to find something that can do a better job scanning medium format film.

As a final note, if there's anything specific that I've left out that you want to know about, please let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you on it as soon as I can. It can be hard to post links here, but I'll try to post links to a couple of high resolution (at 5000 dpi) scans in the comments section.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2016 4:53 AM PST


Mead 2-Inch D-Ring View Binder, Pack of 4, Black (W465-44BPP)
Mead 2-Inch D-Ring View Binder, Pack of 4, Black (W465-44BPP)
Price: $36.08

2.0 out of 5 stars I'd keep looking., December 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not a fan of these. While the opening and closing mechanism is okay (if a bit cheaply constructed), the binder itself isn't that great. It's quite thin and cheap looking. It arrived with dings and marks in the (also very cheap looking) clear plastic cover. Those clear covers, as well as the interior "pockets", don't really inspire a lot of confidence.

I use binders with my ever-increasing collection of PrintFile pages to store photographic negatives. This will do the trick, in the sense that it will hold the pages. But the other binders I have feel thicker and more solid.

$35 for four of these? No.


byHomeSource Dust Whiz Dusting Brush, 1 Dusting Brush with Adapter
byHomeSource Dust Whiz Dusting Brush, 1 Dusting Brush with Adapter
Price: $19.99
2 used & new from $17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The price isn't bad, and it does do what it's intended to ..., December 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The price isn't bad, and it does do what it's intended to do. I'm using it primarily for fan blades, just because I feel like it's too unwieldy to lug the vacuum around the house to clean the dust off of everything. And it's not as useful in the areas where being dust-free is essential (I use a number of film cameras, developing and scanning at home, so certain areas need to be as clean as possible). In those cases, a spray and cloth will do a more thorough job.

Otherwise though, it takes care of those fan blades. So I'm happy with that.


Dickies D89331 Creme-Colored Grain Pigskin Leather Palm Glove with Extended Knit Wrist
Dickies D89331 Creme-Colored Grain Pigskin Leather Palm Glove with Extended Knit Wrist
Price: $15.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the cold months, December 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to say, if these were more form-fitting and I was blindfolded, I might think I was actually putting on a decent pair of gloves, not work gloves. They're soft a really comfortable inside, but they remain grippy on the outside. They're great as winter work gloves, but once it warms up you'll want to switch to something more breathable. These will probably last me several years since our winters are pretty short.


Bibigo Korean Gochujang Sauce, 11.46 Ounce, 2 Count
Bibigo Korean Gochujang Sauce, 11.46 Ounce, 2 Count

5.0 out of 5 stars Pricey & Delicious!! But Mostly Delicious., November 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm struggling with this rating (a little, but not really), so I'll put my thought process out there for others to determine if the product is actually worth 4 or 5 stars. Here's why: at the current price of over $30 for two 11.5 ounce bottles, it's just plain expensive. It's so expensive that you could probably convince people that being in possession of it would be a misdemeanor. [Update: price has been lowered to $10! Buy buy buy!]

So that skewed my perception. At first taste, I liked the flavor but I couldn't get the dollar signs out of my head. But the more I tried it (and in different scenarios), the more I fell in love with this sauce. Now that I'm basically down to the last remnants of the first bottle, I'm hoarding away that second bottle like Golem in the dark recesses of the back of the kitchen pantry, hoping that my wife won't find it and start slopping it all over everything as if it's going to last forever... my preciousssss....

Oh yeah. Back to it. This stuff is pretty great. I'm not one of those people that can pick out all of the separate ingredients of a sauce, but it definitely has a distinct Korean flavor, whatever that means. It starts out with a mild sweetness which slowly progresses into a pretty solid burn that lingers for quite a while. It's somehow not a "punch-in-the-face" sort of heat that you get from some hot sauce. It's slow, simmering, and it builds in intensity over time.

We've used the sauce for a few different things, including as part of a marinade with a soy sauce base, as part of a dipping sauce for hors d'oeuvres mixed with a yogurt-based ranch dressing, and mixed up with a light mayo for use on roast beef sandwiches. The transformation is incredible, even small amounts make a huge difference.

I have to say, I think this is now one of my favorite sauces of all time. People in other reviews have said that this can easily be made at home for much cheaper; I'm going to try my best. But if I can't get it right (it's likely I won't), then I'm definitely okay with spending the money to have continued access to this sauce. And THAT is why I couldn't take off a star for the high price -- because I would pay that much to have more of it.

Update 12/31/2015: Price just dropped from $30 to $10! I'm buying another two bottles right now, even though I haven't finished the first two!


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