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Profile for Paul Christensen > Reviews


Paul Christensen's Profile

Customer Reviews: 211
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Helpful Votes: 6711

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Reviews Written by
Paul Christensen "gadget geek" RSS Feed (West Chester, PA United States)

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Moen 3931 Tub Diverter  Spout, Chrome
Moen 3931 Tub Diverter Spout, Chrome
Price: $27.67
40 used & new from $14.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time on "box store" diverters - this one actually installs securely, but wish it wasn't chrome-plated plastic, May 4, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After being frustrated with the poor diverter choices at my local "big box" home improvement stores, I bought this Moen diverter on Amazon. The diverter I bought locally at 1/3 the price had a very poor anchor design that can easily pierce / destroy copper piping, and in the end I couldn't get a tight enough fit.

The Moen may be 3x more expensive, but it has a sophisticated mounting design that distributes force around the entire pipe. Rock solid install and performance, although the chrome-plated plastic design of the diverter body itself should be metal at the price point.

Leviton DDMX1-BLZ Decora Digital Dimmer and Timer with Bluetooth Technology
Leviton DDMX1-BLZ Decora Digital Dimmer and Timer with Bluetooth Technology
Price: $44.99
7 used & new from $35.99

5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING programmable timer with Bluetooth setup and control, but wish it supported home automation (eg. HomeKit?), May 4, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Initially, I was confused by the idea of a dimmer that doesn't connect into home automation platforms. But after using the DDMX1-BLZ Decora Digital Dimmer, I can honestly say this has a fit - namely, easy setup and programmability via Bluetooth (iOS or Android app) with some limited lighting control (you must be physically within 30 feet of the dimmer).

First of all, Leviton does offer Z-WAVE compatible dimmers (the Vizia line), but these require a home automation hub which is the next level of complexity and expense. On the other end of the spectrum are Leviton's traditional dimmers offering anywhere from mechanical lighting levels to simple in-device memory.

The DDMX1-BLZ offers a nice "middle ground" for lighting control. It looks like a traditional "Decora-style" square dimmer, with a manual rocker control on the right, and lighting level indicator on the right. The plastic switch controls are interchangeable, and Leviton cleverly includes white, ivory, and almond color inserts in the product packaging. To be honest, the plastic feels a bit "lower-quality" by itself, but when installed in the wall I didn't notice the difference. Leviton sells additional color kits for brown and black, although I haven't seen these for sale (yet).

Also important to note - this dimmer is designed to support modern lighting loads - it comes preset for incandescent / magnetic low voltage and can handle 1000W for these loads. It can be configured for various dimmable LED and dimmable Fluorescent loads at 450W. Leviton has complete detailed specifications (including certified bulbs) on their website - it's a good idea to download these first if you're not connecting to traditional incandescent lighting.

Which also brings to the point of installation. Unlike traditional dimmers that pass-through hot (black) loads, this dimmer requires separate connections for hot (black) and load (red wire on the dimmer). It also supports 3-way configurations, although this requires a specific remote module (the DD00R-DLZ). The dimmer unit itself is small enough to fit in multi-gang switch units - it is no larger than the "dumb" Leviton dimmer I replaced.

Setup is easy - simply hold the "off" (down switch) and the lower light will blink, entering the switch into Bluetooth pairing mode. The Leviton app can be downloaded for either iOS or Android, and it easily finds the dimmer without having to go through your phone's Bluetooth setup screen. Once connected, you can rename it and then configure various options.

One option you will want to change immediately is to turn off the "brightness level" LED which is strong enough to be really annoying. By default it is always on - when you turn it off it still indicates brightness level temporarily when you change it on the switch rocker itself. The app also supports simple control (on/off and brightness level), bulb type, fade on/off timing, and even scheduled timing. Your phone must support Bluetooth 4 LE (pretty much every smartphone in the last 2.5 years does).

This last part is a critical benefit to this dimmer ... discounted, this dimmer is about the same price as competing "timer" switches, which are difficult (painful) to setup at best. Being able to configure an on/off schedule / pattern including considerations for daylight savings time from your mobile app is a revolutionary way of controlling lighting. And, the dimmer doesn't look ugly in the wall like many traditional scheduled dimmer switches.

I've always liked Leviton dimmers for their quality - installing them in our last 3 houses and never having had an issue, and so far the setup and flawless operation are good signs for future reliability.

If there is any complaint it would be the app itself starts up with an annoying 5-second "Connecting" message each time you connect to a specific dimmer. While the connection time may be a limitation of Bluetooth, I have seen many other devices handle this in a much more transparent manner.

Finally, the advent of WiFi-enabled platforms (eg. Apple's HomeKit) has me wondering how long a Bluetooth-only solution will be relevant. But for now, this dimmer fits a missing gap between "dumb" dimmers and whole-home automation.
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Meguiar's G18905 Ultimate Leather Balm, 5.64 oz.
Meguiar's G18905 Ultimate Leather Balm, 5.64 oz.
Price: $14.42
8 used & new from $14.42

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars natural leather conditioner and protectant NOT a cleaner - leaves a clean, pleasant slightly glossy protective finish, May 4, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Meguiar's Ultimate Leather Balm is just that - a natural leather conditioner NOT a cleaner, despite what the box indicates. On my 2009 Infiniti, this product applied easily with the included sponge, but it did very little to clean existing discoloration. You should use a leather CLEANER first, let it dry, and then apply Meguiar's Leather Balm as a protective finish.

Unlike some leather protectants, this leather balm does not overpower with a strong scent. There is a slight and very pleasant smell from the natural cocoa oils, and not some artificial "leather scent" like competing products. I have included a photo showing after application.

My reasons for not giving this the full 5 stars are the confusion of "cleaning" (it doesn't do that), and a question of value - 5.64 oz is smaller than you think, although a little bit of this product goes a long way.
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UPG UB1280I Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
UPG UB1280I Sealed Lead Acid Batteries
Offered by Battery Supersite
Price: $18.99
59 used & new from $17.89

1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute JUNK - lasted less than 1 year vs previous replacement that lasted for 3 years, April 5, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Purchased this for my Verizon FIOS unit and the battery lasted exactly one year. The previous battery lasted for 4 years. Absolute JUNK - avoid at all cost.

TurboTax Deluxe 2015 Federal + Fed Efile Tax Preparation Software - PC/Mac Disc
TurboTax Deluxe 2015 Federal + Fed Efile Tax Preparation Software - PC/Mac Disc
Offered by Infinite Software
Price: $20.99
17 used & new from $13.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE - Tax forms are back, but state is a $39 additional download in this edition!, February 7, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So, I'm torn because TurboTax has been my "gold standard" for over 15 years now, even as my taxes have become more complex. Moving from one tax preparation platform to another is not easy, and Intuit knows that.

For 2015, TurboTax did bring back the missing forms (eg. Schedule D) after the 2014 debacle, but once again they are playing more games to gouge you. Many editions, including this one do not include a State download, which is now $39 - more than the cost of this Federal-only Deluxe. For $10 more, you can get TurboTax Federal + State, although you still have to pay an additional $19 to e-file state returns as before. (You can print and mail state forms for free, or manually file them on your own state portal).

And once again, TurboTax forces you to be online to login to your Intuit account before you can work on your local tax return. Make sure you save your returns in another form (eg. Paper, Encrypted PDF) just to be safe.

equinux tizi Turbolader 3x - 3 port USB Auto Max Power, German engineered car charger, 5.1A High Power each USB port up to 2.1A
equinux tizi Turbolader 3x - 3 port USB Auto Max Power, German engineered car charger, 5.1A High Power each USB port up to 2.1A
Offered by equinux USA
Price: $29.99
2 used & new from $19.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Despite 2.1A claim, it's not powerful enough to charge new Apple iPhone battery case + iPhone 6s unlike some other chargers, January 10, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Despite its claims of being a high-amperage charger, the Tizi Turbolader 3x does not output enough amperage to charge the new Apple iPhone 6 battery case with the iPhone 6s in it. On the other hand, my Powergen charger works just fine charging this configuration, although it only has two ports (and cannot charge the battery case if the other port is in use).

PowerGen 2.4Amps / 12W Dual USB Car charger Designed for Apple and Android Devices - Black
PowerGen 2.4Amps / 12W Dual USB Car charger Designed for Apple and Android Devices - Black
Offered by TMT[Thoughts Make Things] shop
Price: $19.52
43 used & new from $2.04

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding charger - compact, output high enough to charge new Apple iPhone battery case + iPhone 6s, January 10, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There are many chargers claiming to be high amperage, but this one actually delivers. In fact, it's strong enough to charge the new Apple iPhone battery case + an iPhone 6s. Now THAT is impressive.

As for durability, I've owned two of these for nearly 2 years and had no problems - one in my primary vehicle, and the other as my travel charger.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 14
Adobe Photoshop Elements 14
Price: $70.77
11 used & new from $69.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best photo editor for beginner / intermediate gets even better, although price model is more complex now with Adobe CC, December 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Photoshop Elements v14 is the latest release of the venerable beginner / enthusiast photo editor and organizer. Released on a yearly basis, v14 offers modest improvements (some borrowed from the professional Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC), perhaps giving pause to its $99 (list) pricing, especially if you are a previous Photoshop Elements v13 owner.

First of all, it is important to consider the target audience for Photoshop Elements - the beginner / novice or enthusiast. As such, it provides features not found in the more advanced Photoshop CC or Lightroom (CC) including Quick and Guided editing modes that walk through features based on what you want to accomplish. Any changes that you make in either mode are immediately visible in the "Expert" mode, allowing you to learn by doing. These are capabilities not found in the full Photoshop (CC) and truly make photo editing and retouching more accessible to beginners and those who just don't want to invest learning the complexities of a full-fledge tool.

There are quite a few features that Photoshop Elements doesn't support that its bigger brothers (Photoshop CC / Lightroom) do, although some are more useful than others for the amateur / enthusiast. Camera RAW doesn't support automatic lens distortion, no support for Channels, limited Vector support, limited 16-bit image support, no support for alternate color modes, and the list goes on.

And, perhaps in a nod to its beginner focus, Adobe sells Photoshop Elements at a standalone price, with a license key that is valid on 2 separate computers, either Windows or Mac (even in combination). Although install DVDs are provided for each platform you can also download the web-based installers if you don't have a DVD drive. For some reason, the 2014 download installers are actually smaller than their 2013 counterparts (but still expect a 1.4GB download).

Getting back to the v14 release, the list of improvements over v13 are strong but perhaps not a justification of another full purchase:
(Quick Mode)
- "Smart Looks" analyzes and image and chooses 5 options it feels most appropriate (in practice, I found the results random and not always useful)

(Guided Mode)
- Guided Resize for web or print
- Guided Motion Blur

(in Expert Mode):
- Dehaze (from Lightroom CC and Camera RAW) an absolutely stellar filter that brings new life to "bland" photos with few artifacts
- Anti-Shake reshapes pixels and potentially sharpens slightly blurry photos (in practice, I found this less useful than Dehaze)
- Refine Selection for more complex cut-outs

- Much more accurate face recognition
- Improved Places tab shows photo locations visually

Taken together, even at the Amazon-discounted price, you might be better waiting to upgrade in alternate years given the slowing pace of truly new features with Photoshop Elements. Consider that the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan is only $9.99/month which includes full versions of Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, Bridge CC, mobile apps including Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Fix, Photoshop Mix, etc and you realize what a huge difference in functionality / value exists. For 10 months (list price) of CC Photography Plan you are getting a much-easier-to-use-and-learn Elements with a drastically limited feature set.

The rub is that Adobe has sufficiently differentiated their beginner (Elements) from pro (Lightroom / Photoshop CC) offerings. If you purchase the CC plan you lose the Quick and Guided modes so useful for learning, and there is no easy migration from Photoshop Elements Organizer to Adobe Bridge. And, for now, although you can purchase a standalone version of Lightroom (for more than Photoshop Elements), Adobe has ceased updating the full Photoshop. So, Photoshop Elements remains the only standalone full-fledged editor from Adobe.

As such, considering the target audience, capabilities and easy of use, I am reserving a 5-star review, although in comparison with v13 and the full CC Photography Plan, Photoshop Elements offers far less value for the yearly full price.

Charge and Audio Extension Cable for Cars and Speaker Docks Fits Apple iPod / iPhone-White 4 Feet
Charge and Audio Extension Cable for Cars and Speaker Docks Fits Apple iPod / iPhone-White 4 Feet
Offered by customer comes
Price: $2.86
20 used & new from $0.54

2.0 out of 5 stars Does not pass power in newer-generation iPods / iPhones., December 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Your mileage may vary, but in my configuration it did not pass power. Perhaps for older-generation iPhones and iPads it will work.

Scosche passPORT Charging Adapter for iPod and iPhone (Black)
Scosche passPORT Charging Adapter for iPod and iPhone (Black)
2 used & new from $75.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Passed power but not iPod / audio connection on my 2009 Infiniti, December 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
From what I can read on this product, your mileage may vary depending on vehicle and iPod version.

In my instance, it passed power but not the audio connection in my 2009 Infiniti (without the passPORT adapter I have an iPod connection but no charging).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2016 7:16 PM PST

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