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Customer Reviews: 166
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Paul Christensen "gadget geek" RSS Feed (West Chester, PA United States)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

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Belkin Power House Dual Lightning Charge and Sync Dock for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPhone 5 / 5S / 5c, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 with Retina display, iPad mini, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th Gen, iPod touch 5th Gen and iPod nano 7th Gen
Belkin Power House Dual Lightning Charge and Sync Dock for iPhone 6 / 6 Plus, iPhone 5 / 5S / 5c, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2 with Retina display, iPad mini, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad 4th Gen, iPod touch 5th Gen and iPod nano 7th Gen
Price: Click here to see our price
11 used & new from $71.34

2.0 out of 5 stars works great IF you don't have a case (iPad,iPhone) OR you own a Dremel tool - CHARGE only, no sync, December 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, let me say that Lightning docks are a "boatload of hurt". In my humble opinion, Apple hasn't done a very good job of setting standards for cases, chargers, tolerances, docks. In "the old days of the iPod", Apple had a standard 30-pin dock with interchangeable inserts for different models of iPods that many third-party manufacturers used too. Perhaps it's just too difficult now with so many case options.

That being said, the Belkin Power House Dual Lightning Charge and Sync Dock is a good idea with a flawed design that could be easily fixed. And given the number of other negative reviews, it surprises me why they continue to sell this unchanged.

This is a fairly substantial dual dock, with two different bays with their own adjustable lightning connectors. The connectors pivot front-to-back, and each has a wheel that adjusts the height up and down. So far so good.

First of all, this is NOT a sync dock - there is no USB cable to your computer. It will only charge your Lightning devices.

Secondly, and more importantly, although the docks have rear supports and rubber supports on the bottom for stability, Belkin chose to surround the Lightning connectors with a wide plastic base that interferes with most cases. The lightning connector is not long enough to make contact.

My results were mixed (see photos):
- WORKS: iPad 4th generation with Apple Case (the thin case has a wide opening around the Lightning connector)
- DOESN'T WORK: iPhone 5s with Apple leather case (the Lightning connector opening is not much larger than a cable)

From what I've seen, the Apple iPhone 6 cases have a wide opening at the bottom and will most likely work with this dock.

If you are any bit handy and own a Dremel tool, and you don't mind voiding your warranty or the possibility of returning it, you can remove a few mm of plastic from around the Lightning connector to give enough room to make the connection (see my photos). This worked nicely in my case, but there is no excuse for Belkin not designing the connector clearance this way in the first place.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2014 7:35 PM PST


Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
Price: $21.60
75 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it works, and this aerator is both beautiful and functional, December 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I discovered this aerator while staying with a friend. They had the Vinturi stand / aerator which is the same unit with a lucite stand. It is truly amazing the difference in your red wine if you don't want to wait for a newly-opened bottle.

The Vinturi is not only functional, it is a high-quality work of art! Frankly, I'm surprised how reasonable this is priced, and would highly recommend it.


Swissmar Epivac Wine & Champagne Saver Set, Chrome
Swissmar Epivac Wine & Champagne Saver Set, Chrome
Price: $23.54
6 used & new from $8.07

1.0 out of 5 stars It works IF you do all the right things - not very reliable, and not great quality (it's plastic), December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
UPDATE: After reviewing this unit, I bought the competing "Vacu Vin 981460 Wine Saver" which WORKS PERFECTLY every time. It even "clicks" when you reach the right level of vacuum. It is so much better, I am revising my rating of the Swissmar Epivac to 1 star.

You can't beat the price on this Swissmar Epivac Wine & Champagne Saver set, so I really wanted to like it. And if you're REALLY careful, and do EVERYTHING right, it can work. But it's not easy or reliable.

First of all - and most important with any wine vacuum pump - you can't just leave your bottle of red open while you have dinner and expect this vacuum pump to magically save the bottle. In order for this to preserve the wine you basically have to cork and vacuum almost IMMEDIATELY after you're finished pouring.

This set includes two special rubber bottle stoppers for your wine, and a pressure top for champagne. You replace the cork with the bottle seal, and then use the pump to remove air (wine) or add air (champagne).

The problem is, that at least with the wine seals, the valve is a tiny plastic part in the middle of the stopper. You place the stopper on your wine, make sure the pump is in the vacuum setting (button on top), and then pump 10-25 times to remove the air. So far so good. The problem is when you remove the pump, most times the valve just lets most of the air back in. I've tried it at least 6 times and only been successful once. Even if you center the release valve under the pump, and are REALLY careful to remove the pump without triggering the release valve, it still lets the air back in.

I didn't try the champagne stopper, but can't imagine it's much better.

If you really want a wine vacuum that works, I would look elsewhere.


New Star Foodservice 42917 Commercial Quality Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Combo Set
New Star Foodservice 42917 Commercial Quality Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Combo Set
Offered by New Star Foodservice Inc
Price: $7.95
2 used & new from $7.95

4.0 out of 5 stars You can't argue with the value, but these are far from "commercial quality", December 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, let me say that you can't find a better value in stainless steel measuring spoons and cups than this set. And for that they earn a 4-star rating.

But to call them "commercial quality" is a bit of a stretch. The gauge (thickness) of the stainless steel is thin, and the measuring spoons themselves can easily bend. While not rough, the edges are not evenly finished either. And the handles do not appear to be strongly welded to the measuring cups, so long-time durability remains to be seen.


Belkin Apple MFi Certified Lightning to USB ChargeSync Cable for iPhone 5 / 5S / 5c, iPad 4th Gen, iPad mini, and iPod touch 7th Gen, 4 Feet (Blue)
Belkin Apple MFi Certified Lightning to USB ChargeSync Cable for iPhone 5 / 5S / 5c, iPad 4th Gen, iPad mini, and iPod touch 7th Gen, 4 Feet (Blue)
Price: Click here to see our price

4.0 out of 5 stars UPDATED design now has super-small lightning connector - 4 foot length and color choices make this a winner, December 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the 4th Belkin lightning USB cable that I've owned, and it is by far the best design. This new version has a dramatically smaller lightning connector that is just marginally larger than Apple's own cable. This means that - unlike most 3rd party lightning cables - it will work with most cases. The new design also has a somewhat thinner cable which takes up less space when rolled up in your bag.

I've always liked Belkin's line of certified Lightning cables - good value, available in multiple lengths (the 4-foot length of this cable is particularly convenient) and multiple color choices.

The only reason I'm reserving a full 5-star rating is based on past experience with the older design. I have had problems with failure where they would stop being recognized. In each case, the cables were replaced by Belkin under warranty although the process is long and slow. So far I have had no compatibility warnings with this cable on 3 different devices (two iPhones and 1 iPad), so I am hoping these problems have finally been solved.


Norton Security with Backup (For 10 Devices)
Norton Security with Backup (For 10 Devices)
Price: $85.24
3 used & new from $81.24

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Norton update - but doesn't retain any remaining Norton360 subscription, and the install trashed one Windows 8.1 computer, November 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Norton Security with Backup is the latest version of Symantec's trusted cross-platform security and utility suite (formerly known as Norton 360 Premier). This new release adds some solid features not present in its prior incarnation known as Norton 360 Premier, including support for 10 devices (Windows, Mac, Android), Identify Safe password management, an updated / simplified user interface, and the Norton Virus Protection Promise (which provides remote support for virus removal at no charge if the automatic engine can't remove an infection).

And while I like the new features and the increased flexibility beyond the "1-3 PCs" offered in the prior Norton 360, my initial experience left a bad taste.

First of all, even though this is essentially the latest version of Norton360 Premier, the install does NOT retain any prior subscription you may have. So unless you REALLY need the new features in this release or need to support more than 3 devices, wait until your existing Norton 360 subscription is near its end before upgrading to Norton Security.

Secondly - and more concerning - is the stability of the installer. The first machine I tried to install this on was running the latest version of Windows 8.1 (with all latest Microsoft updates). The installer recognized a prior installation of Norton 360 Premier and proceeded to uninstall and reboot to continue. But on restart, Windows indicated it was attempting an "Automatic Repair". Ultimately, the Windows repairs FAILED - the error (0xC000021A) is a corruption of the Windows login files that could not be fixed by Automatic Repair, or even attempting to boot into Safe Mode. Lucky for me, I had a recent image backup of this Windows 8.1 install, although I suspect I could have tried to reinstall Windows 8 from the USB media.

Speaking of Backups - once again, the Backup capabilities of Norton Security are very basic and file-based, ultimately tied to Norton's online backup services. You get 25GB of free storage but there is no ability to perform a Windows system backup like TrueImage and others offer (Norton used to offer Ghost but this capability has long since been removed from the suite). So while your files are protected, your system is not.

Some may be surprised to see there is no CD or physical media - you are pointed to a URL (website) to enter your key and download the Norton setup program (a 1MB file), which you then launch for an additional (125MB) download of the actual product installer. Given that fewer devices are bundled with CD/DVD drives, I think this is a better approach - it always gives you the latest version of the installer and allows Norton to stay up-to-date with platform changes.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2014 11:48 AM PST


Brother PTD400AD Label Maker With AC Adapter
Brother PTD400AD Label Maker With AC Adapter
Offered by chaimyes
Price: $51.99
33 used & new from $44.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2 steps forward, one step back - compact, fast, multi-line with formatting and memory, but hard-to-read display, November 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is my third Brother Label Maker and in general I much prefer the Brother models to competing brands (eg. Epson). Brother's tapes are much easier to find and less expensive (often discounted). Even with the extra waste at the edges, the Brother ultimately costs less than the Epson.

The Brother PTD400AD is a definite step-up from earlier entry-level models. I owned a PT1750 which has served me well for years. This new model is completely updated although not much larger than the previous generation. It's wider and shorter, allowing larger keys and more dedicated buttons including arrow keys, punctuation, Tab, and dedicated buttons for Font, Label, Frame, Symbol, Sample Labels, and Bar Codes. It prints about 50% faster than my old model and accepts thinner (3.5mm) tape (up to a maximum of 18mm). The display has multiple lines, and indicates format, font, and border. And with a memory, it remembers frequent phrases and labels.

So what's not to like? The display is MUCH harder to read, even in good lighting. For all that this is a fantastic label printer, the display alone may be a deal-breaker for some especially if you have to use it on a daily basis.

For $20 more, you can buy the PTD450 which has a backlit display, AND it has a USB connection for printing from your computer.

Also note that this requires the newer "TZe" tapes. If you have an older "TZ" tape it will not work (and won't even load).


Heavy Weight Square 14-Inch Metallic Woven Vinyl Placemat, Black, Set of 4
Heavy Weight Square 14-Inch Metallic Woven Vinyl Placemat, Black, Set of 4
Price: $15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars GREAT quality, but limited use in square format, November 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, let me state that the quality and finish of these woven vinyl placemats are outstanding - way above average and easy to clean. Unfortunately, the square shape limits their usefulness in anything more than a casual lunch. You just won't have room for dinner dishes, silverware, and glassware. As you can see from the photo I uploaded, an average dinner plate covers most of this matt.
Comment Comment | Permalink


3M 90211 36" Paint Defender Door Edge Protection Film
3M 90211 36" Paint Defender Door Edge Protection Film

1.0 out of 5 stars worthless - even in perfect conditions couldn't get the film to properly follow contour of door edge, November 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While the 3M Paint Defender Door Edge Protection Film sounded like a good idea, it failed right from the start even under the conditions outlined in the instructions. Ultimately, the film is not thin and this keeps it from properly following the contours of the average door, buckling and refusing to adhere along the way. Don't waste your time on this.
Comment Comment | Permalink


Wahoo TICKR RUN Workout Tracker for iPhone and Android
Wahoo TICKR RUN Workout Tracker for iPhone and Android
Price: $79.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent bluetooth (+ANT) HR and Motion monitor. Worth every penny over the crowded field of HR-only devices, August 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
While there are many good choices for inexpensive Bluetooth Heart Rate monitors, Wahoo Fitness differentiates with the addition of an accelerometer for motion and stride. And the companion Wahoo Fitness app really makes this device shine with stride analytics.

The packaging is very minimalist - there is no manual, not even a setup guide, so if you want to get started you must download this (there is a QR code to scan if you want a quick link). I would have preferred at least some simple instructions. That being said, once you actually find the setup / pairing instructions, I found it to be reliable and easy. The chest band is very comfortable, lightweight and good quality. Unlike other HR monitors, the Wahoo includes activity LEDs to let you know it's actually powered on / available for pairing.

I'm not a runner - I'm a heavy walker, so the run analytics are limited use for me. But I did like the ability to "calibrate" the device for treadmill use, so I can keep track of my stride and distance without relying on the phone's GPS like most other fitness apps do.

All in all, the $30 (or so) premium over heartrate-only devices is worth it for me.


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