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Paul Christensen "gadget geek" RSS Feed (West Chester, PA United States)
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GE Lighting 33846 Energy-Smart LED 11-watt, 800-Lumen A19 Bulb with Medium Base, Soft White, 1-Pack
GE Lighting 33846 Energy-Smart LED 11-watt, 800-Lumen A19 Bulb with Medium Base, Soft White, 1-Pack
Offered by Fetch General
Price: $12.95
4 used & new from $7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NEAR-IDENTICAL color, light pattern (with an opaque lamp shade) and brightness to a 60w, but unknown longevity, January 9, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Until now, I've been unimpressed with lighting alternatives to traditional incandescent bulbs. The GE Energy-Smart Soft White LED 11-watt bulb has changed that! Why?

- identical warm color temperature to a 60watt soft white incandescent bulb
(in side-by-side comparisons in the same lamps with opaque shades we could not tell a difference)

- identical perceived brightness (this bulb emits 800 lumens vs the 830 lumens of a 60w incandescent)
ONLY if you are using this in a lamp with a shade. If you are using it as a spotlight, the brightest part of the bulb is on the side of the globe, not the top.

- identical light pattern to a 60watt soft white incandescent bulb (with a non-transparent lamp shade)
BUT if you have a clear or transparent shade you will definitely notice a different as the neck of the bulb does not glow.

What prevents me from giving this bulb a perfect 5-star rating is the long-term durability. GE advertises the bulb as lasting "22.8 years" on its packaging at 3 hours/day * 7 days/week. But their replacement warranty is only 10 years at the same usage cycle. If GE is going to advertise and label the bulb as "22.8 years" then their warranty should be that too. And, while the bulb itself is warm to the touch, the base is quite hot. I'm wondering if the embedded electronics can withstand 10 years at that temperature. AND, GE's on warnings say this bulb CANNOT be installed in a closed fixture such as an exit light.


ViewHD Premium HDMI to HDMI + Audio (SPDIF + RAC L/R) Audio Extractor | Converter | VHD-H2HSAs
ViewHD Premium HDMI to HDMI + Audio (SPDIF + RAC L/R) Audio Extractor | Converter | VHD-H2HSAs
Offered by J&R Galaxies
Price: $30.95
3 used & new from $26.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding solution for older receivers that lack full HDMI capability, January 5, 2015
This audio extractor / converter box (ViewHD Premium HDMI to HDMI + Audio (SPDIF + RCA L/R) fills a notable gap needed for older sound systems. Namely, the ability to extract the audio signal from an HDMI stream.

Good friends of mine have an excellent, but older, Denon receiver that has two completely separate audio zones / amplifiers. They power their family room speakers with the main zone, and then power the rest of their house with the second zone amplifier. After purchasing an AppleTV to stream audio, we were shocked to discover that this older Denon receiver only decodes HDMI audio for the main amplifier! The "zone 2" amplifier requires analog input, which the Apple TV does not have.

Enter a little research, and based on my recommendation, my friends purchased this extractor box. It works as advertised, solving a need for their configuration. Namely, extracting the audio portion of the HDMI stream while passing through the complete HDMI signal (with its ADCP copy protection in tact).

There are 2 audio outputs extracted - analog 2-channel (RCA L/R) if the source stream is 2-channel, and digital 5-channel (optical) if the source audio is multi-channel 5.1. But the trick is that you can't output both simultaneously - it's an "either/or" configuration depending on the audio format in the HDMI stream. And, if you have higher-resolution audio (7.1 channel DTS/Dolby) you are out of luck - nothing will be output from the audio extractors. This is a limitation in digital audio in general.

Luckily, for my friends' 2-channel-only configuration, the ViewHD extractor includes a switch that uses HDMI standards to "request" either 2-channel or 5-channel audio from the source. You can also set the audio format in most devices (eg. AppleTV, Blu-ray players, etc) to force 2-channel output.


67mm Solid Color Glass Christmas Ornament- Gold Metallic Candy, Set of 9
67mm Solid Color Glass Christmas Ornament- Gold Metallic Candy, Set of 9
Offered by ClickToShop
Price: $9.74

2.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality (uneven finish, somewhat dull) and expensive - I would look elsewhere for real glass ornaments, January 5, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It is getting harder to find real glass ball ornaments - most of the ornaments sold by the "big box" stores are now "unbreakable" and ugly plastic (seams and all). So, given I had no other choice, I ordered 3 sets of these 67mm gold glass balls.

Although they work "if you have to", I wouldn't recommend these ornaments. They are extremely poor quality - the glass color plating is uneven and wavy, and most ornaments appear "scuffed". I thought they might have been damaged, but it is indeed just a flaw in the manufacturing process.

For my purposes (embedded in stairway garland far away from any close-up view), these ornaments did the job. But I would look elsewhere unless you absolutely must.


Panasonic DMP-BD91 Smart Network Wi-Fi Blu-Ray Disc Player
Panasonic DMP-BD91 Smart Network Wi-Fi Blu-Ray Disc Player
Offered by EA Electronics
Price: $80.15
59 used & new from $37.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars AVOID this Blu-ray player - software bug LOCKS the player forcing it to be unplugged, horrible on-screen menu system, SLOW!, January 5, 2015
Working with friends who were looking for a good, basic, internet-enabled, non-3D blu-ray player, we had narrowed the choice between the Samsung BD-H5100 (which was sold out) and the Panasonic DMP-BD91. Given my prior experience with Panasonic blu-ray players in the very early days (good), we chose this unit. WHAT A MISTAKE.

First of all, like most blu-ray players now, this unit is small and cheaply made. You cannot stack larger components like a DVR on top of it. Also, the player controls are on the top right, so you will need access to them.

But the big "world of hurt" with this player is that it has a software bug that is a HUGE problem. If you shut off the player when the "Internet" menu is on-screen, it will LOCK the player, forcing you to unplug it, wait a few seconds, and re-plug just to make the unit power on or respond to controls. We downloaded and installed the latest firmware (via wired ethernet connection) when setting up the unit, and it still doesn't fix this problem.

Secondly, the menu system is HORRIBLE - it's arranged in a series of 4 options around a central theme. So you have to hit the "HOME" button, move up (for Internet), down (for disc), and then choose where to go from there. Getting to Amazon Instant Video requires at least 4 steps (HOME button, Internet button, then scroll to Amazon).

The remote is VERY small, so even if you have average-sized hands, you will find yourself accidentally hitting the dedicated "Netflix" button instead of the up direction button. And then, you have to wait FOREVER for the Netflix app to load before you can exit out.

Finally, despite Panasonic having really fast startup times in older players, this unit is SLOW. Power-on is about 30 seconds, with another 15-20 seconds just to recognize a (brand new) DVD so you can hit the PLAY button. And that slow startup time is even after setting the "QuickStart" option.

AVOID this player at all costs. My friends returned it to Amazon based on the lock-up defect.


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
9 used & new from $70.00

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
Offered by Musical Dreams
Price: $19.65
106 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: $17.88
5 used & new from $14.18

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: $9.95
3 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: $59.99
4 used & new from $59.99

22 of 23 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 Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2015 8:51 AM PST


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