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Raul G. RSS Feed (St. Louis, MO)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

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Gillette Fusion Proglide Silvertouch Manual Razor With Flexball Handle Technology With 2 Razor Blade Refills for Men, Silver
Gillette Fusion Proglide Silvertouch Manual Razor With Flexball Handle Technology With 2 Razor Blade Refills for Men, Silver
Price: $9.99
3 used & new from $6.75

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Marketing Department is Working Overtime at Gillette, June 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Fusion Proglide Silvertouch marks another razor in Gillette’s confusing array of disposal razors. There are so many different Gillette razors – 3, 4, and 5 blade options; razors that vibrate; thin-razors; razors with wear indicators; glide strips, razors for gamers… the list goes on. The Fusion Proglide model differs from other Fusion models in that it has 4 blades instead of 5 – though the 4 blades are supposedly thinner… and that, claims Gillette, nets a closer shave. The advancement with the Proglide seems to be the left-to-right rotating shaving head, a.k.a. the “FlexBall”, that allows the razor some movement back and forth. Insofar as I can tell the “Silvertouch” moniker simply refers to the silver coloring of the razor handle itself.

I’m tempted to label Gillette’s product enhancements as gimmicks… no, actually that’s exactly what I’ll call them. I visited Amazon’s Gillette storefront and Gillette’s own website to try and understand how this product supposedly makes my shave better. There’s a somewhat ironic animated video comparing the Proglide in action against a regular (no side-to-side movement) razor. If you buy into Gillette’s marketing (and this is all this product is) then you’ll quickly realize that your razor is obsolete and only by upgrading to the new model will you truly get, “the best a man can get.”

I stopped using Gillette razors after the introduction of the 5-bladed Fusion system as there seemed to be no ending to the “add another blade!” campaign that Gillette was undertaking. That and the ridiculous prices for disposable blades. I switched to a Merkur handle with disposable blade system and never looked back. I do keep my old Mach 3 and Fusion around for quick shaves or for when I travel but otherwise try my best to avoid Gillette products. The Proglide will be no exception. My shave with this product was remarkably similar to my shave with my Fusion or Mach 3 - with the notable exception being the price per blade, which is as you might have assumed, is higher.

Not recommended!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2014 12:52 PM PDT


Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote (White)
Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action Video Camera with Live View Remote (White)
Offered by Green's Camera World
Price: $289.95
24 used & new from $241.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sony Delivers the Action **Review from Action-Cam Novice**, June 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've long wanted to jump onto the GoPro craze and record my outdoor mountain biking adventures, however, could never really justify the price of several hundred dollars for what would amount to some short (and probably rather boring) videos of me biking in the Midwest. I jumped at the opportunity to try out the Sony HDR-AS100VR POV Action-Camera and I'm glad that I did. Paired together with the some other peripherals such as the Performa PF-VCT-SC1 Suction Cup Mount (for this model Sony) I've had a blast recording not only some of my mountain biking but also some spirited driving sessions and videos of my son in new ways and perspectives not possible with my traditional handheld video camera.

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PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:

The AS100VR comes with and without the Live View Remote. Think of the remote as a watch with a LCD screen that connects to the camera and displays the cameras POV. The AS100VR camera does not have a traditional viewfinder or screen of any type. There are two options for displaying the camera POV. Spend the hundred (or so) bucks and get the Live View Remote or download the Sony PlayMemories software application to your compatible smartphone (Android & iOS). I already own a Sony DSC-QX10 and have used the PlayMemories application on my Galaxy S4 running Android extensively. I can confirm that the software works excellently with the AS100VR. You of course will lose some of the flexibility of wearing the screen on your wrist that comes with the Live View Remote but the option is there.

The camera does have a small monochrome LCD screen on the side for configuring settings like video quality (HQ 1080, 720, 480), interval settings (5s/10s/30s/60s), playback settings and photo settings. The camera is compatible with both Sony's proprietary Memory Stick Micro and Micro SD/SDHC cards. I've used a 32GB Micro SDHC (class 10) card for all my recordings. The camera comes with a rechargeable battery that's good for about 2.5hrs of recording on a single charge.

The Live View remote screen measures approximately 1.25" x 1" and comes mounted on a heavy duty nylon wrist band held securely by a Velcro strip. I believe that the camera and Live View Remote initially pair via NFC and then establish a connection over Wi-Fi. The Live View Remote gives you access to the major elements of the camera and allows you to quickly switch between shooting modes (movie, or digital still shots). The remote can be also be used as a really ugly watch by pressing the 'DISP' button that cycles between the camera's POV, POV with overlay (battery & mode indicator) or just plain old time and date.

This kit also comes with a waterproof case. Although I haven't tested the waterproof claim the case is great in that it still allows you to access all the cameras buttons (really only 3) while in the case. I do use the case whenever I'm using the camera (whether on my car or bike) to keep dust and debris off the camera and in case it happens to fall.

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IN THE BOX:

- Action-Camera (HDR-AS100VR)
- Live View Remote (RM-LV1)
- Rechargeable battery pack (NP-BX1)
- Waterproof case (SPK-AS2)
- Adhesive mount (VCT-AM1)
- Tripod adapter
- Micro USB cable
- Operating manual (full manual is located on the camera and accessible via USB)

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USE:

I've been finding all kinds of different uses for this camera. One of my families favorite features is recording my son (1yr old) on his various vehicles. I managed to use the suction cup mount with this camera to mount the camera to my son's Step2 push buggy. I've been recording bits of our daily walks and have the camera pointed back at him. Some of my families favorite videos are catching his facial expressions and candid moments that wouldn't really be possible with a traditional camera.

I also used the suction cup mount to record myself driving at a recent track day sponsored by my car's manufacturer. Setting up the camera on the driver's side rear-passenger window tilted slightly down and in I got some great footage of my (novice) driving skill around a local track. Thanks to the wide viewing angle (170°) I was able to capture a side profile of me driving, my speedo and tach and also my front tire and the track. Paired with track-side footage (shot by my wife) I was able to capture a lot more than otherwise possible.

It's hard to compare this product to others like it. For one I'm not the well versed with competitors products like GoPro. I can speak that as a novice user of this type of camera I found it pretty easy to use and the footage on par with my Sony Handycam (also HD). I say pretty easy but would caveat that Sony could do some improvement to their interface and their knack for using sometimes confusing symbols instead of text and some unnatural menu structures. As a longtime Sony user this is an issue that has carried on for many, many years and seems uniquely Sony to the point of expectation but still a bit annoying that they haven't improved UI's in so many years.

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THE GOOD:

(+) Video quality. The HQ-1080 video quality is outstanding and full of rich color even in bright settings. Paired with Sony's Steady Shot technology even extremely bumpy rides are completely watchable.

(+) Live View Remote. Is simply fantastic and perfect for on the go adjustments such as switching shooting modes. Having the camera's video piped in real time to your wrist is just really cool. This feature beyond anything else gets the most "gee-whiz" reactions from friends & family.

(+) Rugged. I've hit some spirited speeds both in my car (track) and on my bike and this camera has held up to all of it. Including the curious fingers of a 1yr old.

(+) Accessories. Sony has partnered with other companies to make a slew of products for this camera that enable you to mount it to just about anything - car, bike, helmet, kayak, and so on...

(+) GPS. Telemetry data at your finger tips and on your video. Seriously awesome.

(+) PlayMemories. Great software and it's free. If you're questioning splurging for the Live View Remote check out the camera with your smartphone first and see if that'll do!

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WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:

(-) Interface. The Sony clunky interface is alive and well. Sony could use with a few new UI engineers. Menus and options should come naturally, not after reading the manual... and then having to refer back to the manual again.

(-) Wash-out. The Live View Remote screen is pretty small and the screen doesn't have any anti-glare coating. Meaning that in bright situations it's going to be hard to see what you're shooting.

--------------------
CLOSING:

In a month of using this camera almost every day I have to say... I love it! The minor gripes I have about it don't stop me from shooting some really incredible footage. If you're thinking about getting a GoPro or even just a regular video camera consider this! I use this 10x more than my Handy Cam. Recommended!


OmniMount OC120FM Full Motion Mount for 43-Inch to 70-Inch Televisions
OmniMount OC120FM Full Motion Mount for 43-Inch to 70-Inch Televisions
Offered by JMAC Supply
Price: $113.69
34 used & new from $94.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily One of the Best HDTV Mounts I've Used, June 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have mounted several HDTVs in my home and helped many friends do similar in their homes as well. I've used bargain brands like Cheetah Mounts to more expensive brands like Sanus. This is my first experience with an OmniMount product and after recently mounting my 65" Panasonic Plasma with the OC120FM I'm more than pleased with the installation and finished product.

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INSTALLATION:

I installed my mount on a traditional stud and drywall wall and installation was extremely easy. I would, however, caution anyone to have a friend or spouse handy to lend an extra pair of hands. You can install the OC120FM by yourself but doing so might require a bit of disassembly first. This is due to the back wall bracket and the extending arm being pre-assembled in the box. Together these solid metal components weigh quite a bit and would be a challenge to both level, mark (the wall) and properly secure to the wall.

Necessary components to have on hand for a smooth installation include:
1. Level
2. Drill with a 7/32" bit for wood stud installation or 3/8" for masonry
3. Stud-finder
4. Ratchet wrench (for 8mm x 65mm lag bolts)
5. Hammer
6. Phillips screwdriver

The OmniMount comes complete with a standard Vesa back mount (the part that bolts onto the back of your TV), 4 spider adapters (think metal arms that mount to the Vesa plate and then your TV) for non-standard installations, and round spacers for the bolts that hold everything to the TV. You might need these spacers if the bolts are too big to sit snugly against the Vesa plate/TV. Spacers come in both 5mm and 10mm variety.

Once the Vesa plate and the wall mount are installed on the HDTV and wall respectively joining the two components is simple. The extending arm has a locking mechanism that slips onto the Vesa plate and snaps together and then finally secured with two bolts.

If you have every installed a HDTV mount then you'll be right at home with the OmniMount. I had exactly zero surprises with this installation. The finished installed mount was amazingly sturdy and I had not doubt that it would hold my heavy plasma HDTV.

One item of note is that the current Amazon listing is confusing. The title indicates this mount suitable from between 43" to 63" HDTVs. But later in the product description 70" is also listed. Make no mistake that this mount is perfectly suitable for TVs up to 70" and it's clearly labeled on the product box and documentation. Also note that the maximum weight rating is 120lbs.

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USE:

Before mounting my HDTV I used the stand on a piece of furniture specially made for electronics. I've not moved the TV off the furniture and mounted it to my wall and thanks to this mount have a bit more flexibility in how I use my HDTV. The arm on this stand is extremely well engineered and has no issues with my large HDTV even at full extension. Besides extending outwardly the TV can be tilted up or down and side to side. Again, no issues tilting my TV with this mount.

I did want to make explicit mention of wobble once the HDTV is mounted. In short, yes there is a bit of wobble, however, I think that's to be expected with the arm extending out to about 19". The wobble is only noticeable when extending the arm beyond maybe 5" at least that I can tell on my installation. Once done extending the arm there is not wobble or shaking at all.

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CLOSING:

I can't recommend this product enough. I've used SANUS mounts that were twice as expensive as the OmniMount and I cannot really explain the difference. OmniMount has engineered a great product that is easily recommended.


Callaway Putting Mat Gift Set, 6-Feet
Callaway Putting Mat Gift Set, 6-Feet
Offered by Top Shelf Buyers Group
Price: $27.00
6 used & new from $22.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Makes A Nice Gift... But Not Too Nice, June 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been getting more and more into golf and have in this past season purchased and entire new set of clubs and drivers, a practice net for the backyard and rounded that out with this putting mat.

There's not a lot to this. In the box you'll receive:

1. The putting mat (turf) with a non-slip backing
2. Two Callaway golf balls

The surface is a nice soft deep turf and the non-slip backing is great if you're planning on using this on hardwood or tile surfaces. The mat is easy to roll-up and put away in a drawer or in a corner and just as easy to set up for a quick practice session.

The trap is really only designed to hold two balls before they need to be retrieved preventing you from sending more puts down-range. The backstop works great and stops most balls from getting away.

After using this product I'd say it's perfect for an acquaintance as a small gift. I plan on giving these out as small gifts come Christmas time to some golfing friends.


Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum, UH70931PC
Hoover WindTunnel 3 Pro Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum, UH70931PC
Price: $134.20
30 used & new from $95.42

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Performance That Rivals More Expensive Vacuums, June 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We've run that gamut of vacuums in my home from less expensive department store brands like Bissell to more the freakishly expensive Dyson Animal. After about a month of using the Hoover WindTunnel 3 I can easily say that Hoover has built an impressive vacuuming machine! My home has a limited amount of carpet; my main floor consists of hardwood floors with each room having sizable rugs, however, my basement is entirely carpeted. The Hoover WindTunnel 3 has done a great job cleaning my carpeted floors and impressed both my wife and I.

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DESCRIPTION:

I guess the first thing that I'll note is that this vacuum isn't ugly. I suppose that since Dyson sort of turned the concept of vacuum cleaners from the mundane into status-symbol territory it's only natural that other manufacturer's follow. The WindTunnel 3 (WT3) looks like a much more expensive vacuum. The colors are attractive and the dark and light grey's work well with the brighter bits in yellow (attachments) and the reds used to accent the vacuum. Another nice touch is the power-button which is featured on the front of the cleaner below the handle.

Hoover has done a nice job adding features into the WT3 that go a long way in user-friendliness. For example the WT3 features an self retracting cord. The wheels of the vacuum are coated in a rubber material that makes it whisper quiet across your floors including hardwood. Compared to a Bissell that this replaced the WT3 is noticeably quieter. My wife and I have a one-year old and can safely use the WT3 in the house without waking him when he's asleep in his room something we don't dare do with our old cleaner.

The WT3 features a three-step filtration system. The first filter is a sink-washable filter located under the dirt-cup (the top of the debris canister). The WT3 also has replaceable HEPA and carbon filters.

Consumables and part numbers:
1. Rinsable filter -- Part No. 303903001
2. HEPA filter -- Part No. 305687001
3. Carbon filter -- Part No. 902404001

The debris canister is very simple to detach from the vacuum, open and empty. The canister is held on by a thumb-depressed button that releases the canister. A button on the side of the canister releases the bottom for easy dispensing of debris into a receptacle.

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USE:

We have used the WT3 extensively on every carpeted surface in our home and love it. None of the carpets and rugs in our home are very plush; I'd estimate the pile to be well less than an inch in our deepest carpet. This vacuum does a fantastic job. Our living room rug easily receives the most traffic and is by default the dirtiest. This includes two dogs that shed pretty regularly. One of the things I love about the WT3 is that it feels noticeably stronger than our old Bissell. The suction power on the WT3 makes it feel like the vacuum is sucking itself onto our rugs... which ultimately results in a very clean carpet!

We also love the features that I mentioned above like the self-retracting power cord. This simply means that you'll spend less time bending down.

Adjusting the height is done via a dial on the front of the vacuum and features five different settings depending on the pile of your carpet (or if on a hard surface).

One thing that is worth calling out is that my wife did find the vacuum a bit too heavy to use comfortably to clean our carpeted stairs that lead to our basement. This is a complaint she also had with our Bissell so I am the designated stairway cleaner in my home. But still worth noting. I don't find the WT3 to be any heavier than the Bissell it replaced.

--------------------
THE GOOD:

(+) Performance. The WT3 does a fantastic job cleaning our carpets. We've owned a much more expensive vacuum (never again) and would pick the WT3 over the Dyson.

(+) Features. The WT3 is a nicely designed piece of household machinery. The auto-retracting cord, the power button placement, the easy to clean filters and debris canister. All well done.

(+) Looks. Not really a huge area of importance but it's nice that Hoover gave their appliance some style.

(+) Price. I've paid more for vacuums that didn't work as good. I think the WT3 is priced quite reasonably.

(+) Assembly. Easy as 1-2-3! Attach the handle (Phillips screw driver required for one screw); attache the debris canister; and finally attach the tools. Done!

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WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:

(-) Weight. My wife found the vacuum a bit to heavy to use comfortably on stairs. This is also true with many other vacuums.

(-) The cord retracting handle works great but feels not entirely well built. My bet is that if a component fails first it'll be this one.

--------------------
CONCLUSION:

Hoover has done a fantastic job with the WindTunnel 3 and has built a quality product full of features commonly found on much more expensive models. Cleaning performance is similarly impressive. This product is easy to recommend!


Vibe LED Color Changing Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Vibe LED Color Changing Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Offered by All Deals All Day
Price: $25.00
2 used & new from $25.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Built Cheaply & Sounds Terrible But At This Price You May Not Care, June 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Make no mistake, the Vibe LED Color Changing Portable Wireless Speaker is the epitome of cheap, throwaway products manufactured more for a price-point than for any other reason (e.g. sound quality). The list price ($79.95) of this device is laughable and no one in their right mind would spend that amount on this portable speaker after spending just one song's worth of time using it.

This device does everything it claims to do - it easily synced with my Galaxy S4 and started pumping out music in my kitchen within moments of unboxing. The LEDs under the white dome do in fact gently change colors as your music plays along. There's even an included auxiliary cable included in the package along with a power cord. That's it for the good.

The bad... well lets see...

First I suppose I should mention that all of your wonderful songs will sound terrible. Flat with no range, no bass, no treble. Even after tinkering with the equalizer setting on my phone (Rocket Player app) I couldn't get music through the device to sound any less terrible. I would compare the audio quality to listening to music coming from my phones tiny little built-in speaker only piped through a series of cones. Like using a paper towel cone to talk through is the best example I can use.

Construction quality and materials are below grade. The main body (the black part) has a sort of cloth outer coating that feels ready to fall or rip apart any moment. The plastics are cheap and would shatter at the smallest drop. For a device that has a built-in battery I cannot believe how light the entire speaker is (hello speaker = some sort of magnet). But this speaker feels like a light breeze would blow it tumbling down the street.

The device is ugly and much larger than it needs to be. I suppose that's to accommodate the lighting gimmick, er... I mean light show.

So why two-stars? Well it does play music and that's, like, the entire purpose of this thing. So if you happen to be looking for a cheap, portable music player for the patio for a season, for a child's room, or as a gift to someone you don't particularly like then this might fit the bill.


SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Laser Gaming Mouse
SteelSeries Sensei Wireless Laser Gaming Mouse
Offered by IncaDove
Price: $107.95
31 used & new from $91.76

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fully Featured Mouse Coupled with Easy to Use Software, June 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In about a month of using the SteelSeries Sensei on my main gaming/productivity custom PC it has quickly become my favorite mouse in quite some time. The Sensei replaced a wired SteelSeries Kana gaming mouse that I've been using for the past several years and is light years ahead of that mouse.

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DESIGN:

The Sensei is pretty straightforward as far as gaming mice go. Aesthetically the Sensei likely has more in common with far cheaper run-of-the-mill mice than some of the more radical designs by companies like Corsair, Logitech, and Razr. This can be a good or bad thing depending on the user. My current build is more subdued and I find that the subdued looks of the Sensei readily compliment my components including the Corsair K95 keyboard.

However, the biggest drawback here is that some of the ergonomic features in other mice (G700 or M65) are absent in the Sensei. The biggest absent feature would probably be the thumb-rest those two mice feature but also the overall shape which is probably a bit more refined than the traditional shape of the Sensei.

The Sensei consists of two major components: the base (which doubles as the power charger) and the mouse itself. The base is connected to the PC via an included USB cable. The Sensei is Plug-and-Play compliant, however, I strongly recommend downloading the SteelSeries Engine 3 software from SteelSeries' website: [...]

SteelSeries Engine 3 is what really sets the Sensei off from just being another neat looking peripheral. Engine 3 detects any SteelSeries components and displays them in a neatly organized library under the 'My Gear' tab. Clicking on the Sensei a new window opens displaying the mouse and all of the adjustments that can be made. There is a lot of customization that can be done and I'll do my best to capture that in the next section ('software')

The mouse buttons are well designed. The left and right main buttons sit flush with the mouse surface. The scroll-wheel features a nice rubber-type of surface coating and increment-evident scrolling. Four button are built into the sides of the mouse with two on each side.

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SOFTWARE:

As I said before there is a lot of customization to the Sensei using the Engine 3 software. CPI (or Count's Per Inch) as opposed to what most companies call it - DPI (or Dots Per Inch) is the most basic adjustment. Two CPI profiles can be saved and toggled with the click of mouse button 8 (top-most button on the mouse). This is great for switching CPI on the fly between regular use and say a specific game where more CPI is advantageous.

Each button is assigned a section in Engine 3 and is readily programmable using the included macro editor tool.

Another neat feature is the illumination customization options to both the base/charger and the mouse itself. These can be customized using a standard RGB configuration tool or specific color codes. Out of the box the base is assigned to display the battery status profile (green = fully charged, amber = half-charged and so on). The color of the SteelSeries logo on the mouse itself can be changed independently of the base. Illumination can also be completely switch off.

Other adjustments:

Acceleration/Deceleration: Consider this a fine tuning adjustment beyond the assigned CPI profile. Based on a users input (quick or slow movements) you can further customize the mouse CPI for additional sensitivity.

Lift Distance: You can customize how far you can lift your mouse from your surface and still register movement.

Angle Snapping: This setting will help straighten lines (left or right movement).

Polling Rate: How often (in Hz) the mouse and computer communicate. A setting of 1000 will set the polling rate at every 1 millisecond.

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USE:

I've been using the Sensei for about a month and absolutely love this mouse. Even my wife who's been occasionally using my PC (for the dual monitors) for an online study program loved the mouse. I've used the Sensei in everything from shooters (Battlefield 4) to playing slower paced games (Skyrim) and Diablo 3 and the performance is outstanding. Being able to switch to custom macro setups and CPI is a breeze.

I'm also happy to say that after some long play sessions my hand did not feel fatigued.

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THE GOOD:

(+) The Sensei is well built and coupled with the Engine 3 software is really quite a powerful mouse and perfect for those that want a high degree of customization

(+) Excellent styling and aesthetics

(+) Perfect for gaming but also not so far out there that it's difficult to use in everyday applications

(+) Excellent battery life even if left off the charger for a night or two

(+) Can be used in wired mode if so desired (and includes a locking mechanism to keep the mini-USB cable locked to the mouse

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WHAT COULD BE BETTER:

(-) The price point for this device is sky-high

(-) The weight of the mouse is good (120 grams) but no option to add/remove weight like in other premium mice

--------------------
CONCLUSION:

If you're looking for a spectacular performing wireless gaming mouse that you wouldn't be embarrassed to use outside of your gaming room and price is no object then definitely check out the Sensei. Unfortunately the price will probably keep most folks away from this product. Otherwise this is an easy recommendation.


Little Tikes Deluxe Ride and Relax Wagon with Umbrella
Little Tikes Deluxe Ride and Relax Wagon with Umbrella
Price: $122.59
32 used & new from $122.59

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly Made and Poorly Functioning Wagon, May 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My wife and I purchased this wagon as a birthday present for our one-year old son and fell in love with the design and seemingly high usability factor. Unfortunately the wagon as presented on the Amazon product page and as a concept does not translate well in actual real-world use.

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DESIGN & USE:

Like most folks browsing this product we set out to buy our little boy a wagon that we could use to wheel him (and maybe a friend or one of our dogs) around our neighborhood. The entire concept of a wagon being a bit more than just a wagon never occurred to us until we saw this Little Tikes Deluxe Ride & Relax wagon. Since this wagon doubles as a bench and has on-board cooler storage other possibilities opened up. Taking the wagon to pee-wee soccer games, porting the wagon on camping trips... those kinds of outdoor activities.

Reality is a bit different. In truth while this wagon may appear to be a brightly colored and neat looking little-people carrier it is in fact a resounding disappointment in nearly every category.

Let's start with the assembly. The wagon comes in a massive box and features a surprising number of parts. You’ll need at a minimum a hammer and block of something as you'll be hammering in locking fasteners to keep things like the wheels attached. The body and major components of the wagon are a series of interlocking plastic pieces. Very little metal construction is included in the wagon and the metal components are exclusively for the drivetrain, screws, and locking fasteners. Two metal rods slide into plastic molded under-mounts and serve as the axles for the wagons wheels. Another metal rod is used to secure the handle to the body of the wagon. To put it simply these components are just poorly made and poorly implemented in the wagon. Trying to align a long metal rod through predrilled holes in a plastic wagon body and handle is not a pleasant experience. Double that when one of the predrilled holes isn’t properly bored. Each end of the metal rods has to be secured in place using locking fasteners that feature bright red plastic caps on one end. Because the wagon is so awkwardly shaped finding the right size surface to serve as a stable block while you’re trying to hammer the other end of the rod is a huge pain.

Let’s move on to the look of the wagon. The manufacturer’s pictures lead you to think that this is a fun, brightly colored wagon. It is not. The actual plastic pieces; the blue plastic body, the tan sides and red end-caps are not brightly colored as pictured. Instead these are dull, earth-tone colors that look rather shoddy.

The umbrella, which again attracted us to the wagon as we’d be able to provide some shade for our little boy is another disappointment. The umbrella rod slides into a predrilled hole on the side of the wagon but unfortunately doesn’t secure in place very well. In any minor amount of wind the umbrella will start to spin around wildly thus making it more a hazard than anything else. Most of the time when we do wheel out this wagon the umbrella stays back in the garage.

Another issue is with the bench. One of the sides of the wagon is designed to swivel back over the top of the wagon and serve as the back-rest when utilizing the wagon as a bench. The swiveling side-wall is secured when in wagon-mode by thick plastic tabs. So transitioning from wagon-mode to bench is not easy and almost certainly not possible for children. On several occasions while trying to free one side of the side-wall the interlocking plastic pieces just popped off (the red end caps separating from the blue base). Very frustrating.

The wagon itself is quite heavy and thanks to the poorly designed front wheels hard to turn. On many turns I end up with two choices – jostle the wagon back and forth until the wheels cooperate or simply drag the front wheels through the turn until they start rolling again in the proper direction. Not fun and almost certainly tiring. My wife avoids using the wagon entirely because she finds it too heavy and cumbersome.

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THE GOOD:
(+) A wagon that transforms into a bench; a novel concept
(+) Included cooler and built-in cupholders
(+) Seatbelts for the little ones
(+) Hose washable and included drain plugs

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WHAT COULD BE BETTER:
(-) Materials are shoddy; this is plastic junk and unlike other plastic junk toys (i.e. Fischer Price) it’s neither colorful or fun
(-) Assembly is awkward and because materials are low-grade will be a pain
(-) The front wheels have a mind of their own and will often fight you more than assist you in turns
(-) The wagon is heavy and tiresome to pull
(-) The transition from wagon to bench is poorly designed an can lead to the wagon falling apart
(-) The umbrella is nearly worthless except on totally windless days

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CONCLUSION:
Little Tikes has delivered a rock-bottom quality wagon and done a great job hiring a graphic artist to retouch the photos of their wagon to make it look appealing. If you’re looking for a good quality wagon with a bit more versatility then look elsewhere. Not recommended!


Corsair   Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Cherry   Red (CH-9000020-NA)
Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Cherry Red (CH-9000020-NA)
3 used & new from $138.84

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to Love it But Expected More From Corsair, May 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After years of gaming as well as using my PC for non-gaming purposes utilizing inexpensive, non-mechanical keyboards I finally caved-in and decided to spend some cash to get a good mechanical keyboard. I've long used Corsair products in my PC builds including most notably Corsair RAM, PSUs, and cooling solutions. After batting around a few different keyboard manufacturer brands including Logitech, Razr, Steelseries, and Corsair I settled on the K95. I wanted this keyboard to be one that lasted many years and thus justify the $150 dollar expense. In about six months use my experience has been mixed. Corsair got some elements right and completely missed the mark in other areas.

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DESIGN:

The K95 is a gorgeous piece of technology. If you're into the aesthetics of your build then you'll likely be pleased with the K95. The keyboard is heavy and the main body is made from stamped piece of anodized aluminum. The wrist-rest is well designed and doesn't feel like flimsy, cheap plastic and has a nice soft rubber or silicone finish. The same quality is extended to the braided USB cord that again feels heavy and extremely well shielded.

Aside from the mere looks of the keyboard the other aspect that swung my decision to go with the K95 was the 18-macro keys ("G-keys") located to the left-side of the keyboard. These keys work in conjunction with Corsair's in-house developed keyboard software to offer up to 54 unique macro settings. Aside from the gaming aspect, I've found that programing macro commands into everyday uses in other programs is pretty easy.

Backlighting is of course present, however, limited on the K95. The primary limitation is that the backlighting is offered in white-LED only. A lot of the other keyboards I looked at had much more customization available when it came to the backlighting. The other issue with the K95's backlighting is that it is extremely uneven. Any keys with dual uses (e.g. the '7' numerical also doubling as the '&') will have very uneven lighting. This is due to the Cherry MX Red mechanical switches and the need for more physical hardware for each key.

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USAGE:

In short if I was writing a review of the K95 based on typing alone it would receive a 5-star review. I love the feel and tactility of the K95 and each keystroke is met with a very satisfying "click" or "clop" sound. I've been using cheaper rubber-dome keyboards for so long that I've long forgotten how keyboards used to feel. Be aware that if you've never used a mechanical keyboard then there is quite a bit more noise generated when typing. If you're not used to it can probably be a bit distracting.

Programing macros to the G-keys is quite easy thanks to Corsairs software. Backlighting is controlled with a toggle button that lines the top of the keyboard and can be configured to light the entire keyboard or the traditional gaming 'WASD' setup. Located immediately to the right of the backlighting keys is a rotating metal cylinder that controls the master volume to your speakers or headset.

So why am I only giving the K95 two-stars out of five? Simply put the LEDs Corsair used or the design of the LED implementation is poor. I've owned by K95 since November 2013 and have 4-LEDs that have failed. Two of them are on the number row and aren't keys that get heavy usage. So to put it bluntly I expected better from Corsair and from a $150 dollar keyboard.

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WHAT I LIKE:

(+) Materials. Built extremely well out of top-notch materials with one exception - the LEDs.

(+) Aesthetics. The K95 looks absolutely brilliant and definitely different than a traditional keyboard without looking too "boy gamer".

(+) Macros. Easy to program and use the macro keys in a variety of applications and functions.

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WHAT COULD BE BETTER:

(-) LEDs. The LEDs are simply not up to the same level as the rest of the materials used in constructing this keyboard. The LEDs fail and leave the backlighting essentially worthless cheapening the entire product.

(-) Warranty. Corsair's RMA process really has me feeling raw about what exactly I paid for with the K95.

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CONCLUSION:

I simply cannot recommend the K95 as is. After reading so many complaints on various sites (Amazon, NewEgg, etc) all citing the same LED issue it's clear Corsair has a design fault with the K95. The current RMA process is slanted heavily to Corsair's favor and to skirt fixing the root problem. My recommendation is to buy a different keyboard.

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Update 7/15/14:

The total count of failed LEDs is now at seven (7). Totally unacceptable. I'll probably RMA the keyboard and then put up the refurbished unit for sale.

Update 9/3/14:

Another three (3) LEDs failed bringing the total to ten (10) failed LEDs on my K95.

Update 12/22/14:

I finally requested a RMA through Corsair technical support after another series of LEDs failed; in total my K95 had 18 dead LEDs by the time I shipped off my keyboard back to Corsair. The RMA process is relatively straightforward, however, not at all expedient. In broad terms you have two options: a) Send your keyboard back to Corsair and wait for a replacement or b) Give your credit card information to Corsair and they place a hold on the card for the cost of a new keyboard until you can ship back your broken one.

I settled for the first option as I had another keyboard I was able to use. Approximately a month elapsed between opening my ticket with Corsair and getting my replacement keyboard shipped back to me. The ticket process works but isn't exactly a great customer service experience; I would describe it as utilitarian. For example I kept checking on the status of my RMA and after about a week of no change (not even a notification that they'd received my K95) I asked for an update. Every interaction between customer service through the online ticket process seems to take 2-business days so be prepared for that. Only after inquiring was my ticket moved from 'support' to 'customer service' where I was informed, "due to high demand there is a delay in shipping your product back to you". The message also indicated that there could be up to an additional month before my replacement keyboard would be shipped.

So lesson learned, I'm not buying another Corsair keyboard again.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 1, 2015 5:48 PM PST


Philips WeCall Bluetooth Conference Speaker Phone AECS7000/37
Philips WeCall Bluetooth Conference Speaker Phone AECS7000/37
Price: $134.03
20 used & new from $80.96

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for the Telecommuter But Some Puzzling Limitations, May 21, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife works from home full time and I occasionally telecommute to my job. So having a hands free device for making calls or participating in conference calls is a must in my home. Between the two of us we have a myriad of Bluetooth headsets but those devices can become quite uncomfortable after long periods of use. We jumped at the opportunity to test out Philips WeCall BT Conference Speaker.

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SETUP

There are multiple ways to use the WeCall:
1. Using Bluetooth to a smartphone or laptop/PC
2. Using the included USB cable to physically connect to your smartphone or laptop/PC
3. As a portable music player (supports the A2DP protocol)

Within each of those options you can also utilize apps/programs such as Skype.

Setting the WeCall up is a really simple process and if you've paired a BT headset before you'll know exactly what to do. There is a relatively simple manual included in the box too for reference. Philips also advertises an app called Philips WeCall. This is not required to use the device. Also, despite the literature only advertising the WeCall app on iTunes it is most definitely available on Google's Play store. I have the app installed on my Android-based S4.

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USE:

Coupled with the WeCall app this little "pie", what I'm used to calling traditional office conference phones that I've used, is a powerful little device. The app will essentially scan your calender entries and populate the pertinent details in the app with phones numbers already highlighted and ready to dial. Since my office calendar (MS Outlook) is auto-forwarded to my Google Calendar finding my conference line numbers and pins in the app is a nice little feature.

There is one glaring limitation in that while the number is highlighted in the WeCall app you cannot simply click on the highlighted text to add it to the dial line. You have to manually input the number, albeit within the same screen for easy reference to the highlighted text. I would think the more intuitive solution would be to have the number pre-populated on the dial-in dialog box upon a tap.

Sound quality is really quite good and better than I expected. Voices are very clear (obviously there's the other end of the call that plays into the equation as well) and are much, much better than using the included speakerphone function on my S4. When not in a call I also find myself just starting up a playlist and listening to some background music. The WeCall won't win any awards for sound fidelity but as portable speakers go they're quite good!

Battery life from Philips is advertised at around 8hrs. I haven't quite tested that claim but taking multi-hour meetings is not an issue with the WeCall. The device will also charge off of the USB cable so there's always the option of simply plugging it into your laptop/PC.

That brings up my second annoyance. Since my wife and I have a home office and we always have some meeting or other to attend our use of the WeCall is almost daily. We'd ideally like to place the device off of our shared desk and on a bookcase or another out of the way spot. However, because we use the device so much we tend to have to leave it plugged in. In short, I really wish Philips had included an AC adapter for heavy users.

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IN THE BOX:

1. WeCall portable speaker phone
2. Felt carrying case (nice touch Philips!)
3. USB to mini-USB cable (used for charging and physically connecting the WeCall to your devices)
4. Instruction manual

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THE GOOD:

(+) Excellent sound quality

(+) Easy to setup and very easy to use

(+) The WeCall application is handy even if a bit limited

(+) Doubles as a portable music player

(+) For the traveler Philips even included a carrying case

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WHAT COULD BE BETTER:

(-) Give us an AC Adapter Philips! Sure buying a compatible USB based charger is an option but this device is $150!

(-) The WeCall app is handy though usability would be dramatically improved with minor updates

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CONCLUSION:

Philips delivers a great device that will almost certainly be a welcome addition to any home office or light-office environment. A few minor limitations don't stop my household from using the device almost daily. Recommended!


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