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Customer Reviews: 782
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Joel Avrunin "Electrical Engineer who loves Science, History, Economics, and Literature" RSS Feed (Baltimore, MD)
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Palette Painting Tray for Artists. Acrylic, Oil Paint. 11-well Circular Palette Washable White Durable Plastic. ***Lifetime Quality Guarantee*** By the Leading Brand of Art Materials, Chameleon Art Supplies.
Palette Painting Tray for Artists. Acrylic, Oil Paint. 11-well Circular Palette Washable White Durable Plastic. ***Lifetime Quality Guarantee*** By the Leading Brand of Art Materials, Chameleon Art Supplies.
Offered by Chameleon Art Supplies
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars High quality paint tray made of thick plastic, just needs a thumb hole, August 1, 2014
This is a nice little plastic palette that allows you to add and mix various paints. My kids love their oil paints, and we often struggle finding places to mix new colors without making a mess. This palette is made of a thick plastic (certainly not flimsy) and features lots of small cups for mixing up new colors. The palette is large enough for a good assortment of colors (6.5" in diameter) and yet small enough for tiny hands to not have a problem with it.

The plastic is smooth and is very easy to clean when done.

My one complaint is that given the small size, it is hard to hold while painting. I would suggest that in future versions they remove one of the mixing cups to make a thumb hole or similar. There's just no good place to grip it.

Otherwise, excellent paint tray.

Note: I received a sample for the purposes of review.


Sabrent Wifi Audio Receiver (Supports DLNA and AirPlay) for Home Stereo, Portable Speakers (WF-RADU)
Sabrent Wifi Audio Receiver (Supports DLNA and AirPlay) for Home Stereo, Portable Speakers (WF-RADU)
Offered by Store4PC
Price: $39.99
4 used & new from $27.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Better quality than bluetooth but a bit more setup, July 31, 2014
This is a great quality receiver for audio that will allow you to stream WiFi music into legacy systems. I'm sure you have an amazing receiver in your home that plays sound as good as ever and might have been built before the original Apple IIE debuted. Well this will allow you to stream music wireless from your iPad into that system. Unlike bluetooth receivers, this is lossless and won't sound distant and low quality. It's a low cost way to get your music into your home audio system without running tons of cables. Recommended as long as you don't mind a bit of network setup.

Note: I received a free sample for the purposes of review.


Phone Halo StickR TrackR with App - Retail Packaging - Black
Phone Halo StickR TrackR with App - Retail Packaging - Black
Price: $24.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worked fine with my iPhone 5S to track my keys, July 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My experience with the TrackR seems to have been more positive than others here, so perhaps there's been a firmware upgrade. I put the tag on my keys, and when I can't find my keys, I just punch a button on my iPhone and the keys start to beep. Pretty simple! Setup is easy and the device was discovered quickly by my iPhone 5S. As I walked out of the room leaving my keys behind, my iPhone squeaked loudly to let me know I was leaving my keys behind. I can see putting a tag on my luggage, my wallet, etc. Of course, it will impact the iPhone battery life to be constantly scanning for the tags. I haven't seen a huge drain yet, but I need to keep an eye on it.

Overall, if you think this will help you organize your life, it seems to work quite well and accomplishes what it promises.


Swiffer Wetjet Wood Starter Kit
Swiffer Wetjet Wood Starter Kit
Price: $19.97
8 used & new from $19.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for cleaning up your home quickly and easily with little mess, July 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been a big fan of the Swiffer for keeping our wood floors clean for years. Thanks to Amazon, we can subscribe and save to the cleaning fluid and cleaning pads to save money on them. If you haven't used a Wet Jet, it's essentially an absorbent pad on a stick (it attaches with velcro) along with a battery operated sprayer that dispenses cleaning fluid at the push of a button. If you've ever used cleaning spray while wiping the floor with your hands, this is basically the same thing except you can stand up and avoid the bending over. It's great for small messes and quick cleanups. The wood cleaning fluid leaves floors looking great.

This particular package is labeled for "wood" floors, and hence the Swiffer has brown accents and comes with wood floor solution. Worry not - you can use the all-purpose clean for your tile floors in the same swiffer. The bottles self-seal, so you can swap them around as you need. But it's a nice looking upgrade from the regular swiffer.

Incidentally, I use AmazonBasics rechargeable AA batteries and have had no issues. This eats batteries every few weeks, so it's nice to save on that cost.

In total, I get about 6 months of use out of a WetJet before something on it breaks, normally a plastic piece at the base or top of the mop. Then it's time to get another - these kits on Amazon are just the right price.


Blue Microphones Mikey Digital Lightning Recording Microphone for Apple iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, iPod Touch (5th Gen), iPad (4th Gen) and iPad Mini
Blue Microphones Mikey Digital Lightning Recording Microphone for Apple iPhone 5, 5S, 5C, iPod Touch (5th Gen), iPad (4th Gen) and iPad Mini
Price: $99.99
4 used & new from $99.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Improves on the built-in iPhone microphone as long as you have the settings dialed in correctly, July 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Mikey" has a lot of promise and certainly improves audio recording quality in many situations, but it is certainly not a magical panacea for good audio. I tested this device with both my iPhone 5S and my iPad. I was a bit disappointed when I first when to plug it into my iPhone 5S and found that despite my relatively small case (AmazonBasics), I could not get the lightning connector to seat. It would have been great if the connector was a bit offset from the plastic housing to enable it to plug into a case. That being said, I was able to evaluate it without the case.

The first thing I did was try a regular selfie-style review video. I recorded it with Mikey plugged in and unplugged Mikey during the video. I was impressed there was no interruption as the iPad microphone picked up immediately. However, I found that the built-in iPad microphone was actually better! Looking a bit closer at the instructions, I found I had it set to "auto". There is another setting for quiet noise sources and another for loud. Moving the switch to quiet allowed it to pick up my voice a lot better. It has a ton of gain and far more than the iPad by itself.

But the switch has no markings on it! One end is for quiet sounds and the other end for loud, but I can't remember which was is which. There is absolutely no marking on the plastic to let me know. I need the user manual. I can easily see messing this up so I have to find a way to mark the black plastic myself. For the relatively high cost of this accessory, I expected more.

Other than that, the microphone features an overload indicator to let you know it is overdriving, but I found it tended to go straight from 1 green LED to 3 red LED's without much in between (not much linearity to the overdrive detection circuit).

On the plus side, the microphone is lightweight and once dialed in properly, will record far better audio than the iPhone or iPad by itself. I cautiously recommend it, but do suggest you record some test audio before you record something that is important to you because you need to be sure to get the settings right.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 1, 2014 2:18 PM PDT


KINGLAKE® T400 Dimmable Eye-Care LED Desk Lamp LED Reading Lamp (7W, Flexible Neck, 5-Level Dimmer, Pure White/ Warm White Light Color,Touch-Sensitive Controller, No Flickering, No Ghosting)
KINGLAKE® T400 Dimmable Eye-Care LED Desk Lamp LED Reading Lamp (7W, Flexible Neck, 5-Level Dimmer, Pure White/ Warm White Light Color,Touch-Sensitive Controller, No Flickering, No Ghosting)
Offered by Kltech Store
Price: $46.99
2 used & new from $39.99

4.0 out of 5 stars High quality build and adjustable color temperature at a great price - wish it was a bit brighter, July 31, 2014
This LED desk lamp is a very attractive feature on my desk, with a nice white housing and a flexible goose neck adjustment that allows it to be positioned in many different angles. The lamp has a heavy base and a quality build - I have no concerns about it tipping over. Controls are a simple touch-control for on/off, adjusting brightness, and even changing between a whiter reading light and a more yellow nightlight function. I love that manufacturers are flexing the power of LED's in their designs.

As far as value goes, I am currently using a 3M polarizing desk light that costs over $100. I have other value lamps in the $50-$100 range. At $40, this Kinglake desk lamp is a great value and provides a tremendous amount of capability in its price class.

My only issue is that the light is not quite as bright as any of my other LED desk lamps. I have it next to a 3M LED Desk Lamp, Safco LED desk lamp, and TaoTronics. Any of those 3 lamps is far brighter than the Kinglake, but then again, most are at least 2-3 times the price.

For a value price in a desk lamp, this is certainly a fine choice and hence a strong 4 stars.

Note: I received this lamp for the purposes of review.


BlueDriver - Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone®, iPad®, Android
BlueDriver - Bluetooth Professional OBDII Scan Tool for iPhone®, iPad®, Android
Offered by Lemur Vehicle Monitors
Price: $99.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Great value for a car scanner and no longer charges you per code read, July 31, 2014
OBDII readers allow you to get insight into every nook and cranny in your car. For the novice user, they let you read the codes that your car is throwing to let you know if the car is running well or having a problem. By way of example, my wife's car had a problem with the vapor recovery system causing a Check Engine light. I took it to a mechanic who tightened the gas cap and reset the light. Unknowingly I took it for a smog check, paid my fee, and was told the car hadn't run long enough to know if it would pass. If I had an OBDII reader, I could have easily seen if the smog system was ready or not. Turns out I had a much bigger problem, and the EVAP sensor starting throwing errors well before the check engine light came on. The simple ability to read the codes would have saved me a ton of effort.

The BlueDriver installs super easily. Just plug it into the OBDII connector under your dashboard and let your phone's bluetooth find it. You can immediately check for codes, clear codes, or check the smog check system. The app even has a flashlight button to help you find the connector! The BlueDriver flashes a blue LED as it activates that you can easily see without having to crouch under the dashboard. I tested it successfully with both a Dodge Caravan and Toyota Sienna with no problems.

In addition to code reads and smog checks, the app lets you read just about every single sensor in the car. I can monitor the accelerator position and watch the graph change as I press down on the accelerator, or watch other sensors like engine coolant temperature, etc. You can fill a screen with whatever parameters you want to track, pick single parameters to watch "live" on a dial, or watch multiple parameters graph. All of the data can be exported to CSV as well. I am sure I am not getting value out of every feature here, but this little device will pay for itself the first time you find yourself hauling your car to the mechanic due to the CHECK ENGINE light. And if it is just the gas cap, you can reset it yourself!

This is a great tool and a great value. I can't speak for Android performance, but it was a snap to get working with my iPhone 5S. Highly recommended!

Note: I received a free sample for the purposes of evaluation.


[Apple Certified] NOOT® MFI 1.8M/6ft 8-Pin Lightning Cable (6 Feet) iOS7.1.2 + Charger Adapter Designed and Made to Sync - Extended Long Length USB Type A to Data Sync Cable Cord for iPhone 5S / 5C / 5, iPad Air / Mini / Mini2 / iPad 4th Generation (Retina Display), iPod Touch 5th Generation, iPod 5th Generation, and iPod Nano 7th Generation [2 Years Warranty - Apple Offical Licensed Brand]
[Apple Certified] NOOT® MFI 1.8M/6ft 8-Pin Lightning Cable (6 Feet) iOS7.1.2 + Charger Adapter Designed and Made to Sync - Extended Long Length USB Type A to Data Sync Cable Cord for iPhone 5S / 5C / 5, iPad Air / Mini / Mini2 / iPad 4th Generation (Retina Display), iPod Touch 5th Generation, iPod 5th Generation, and iPod Nano 7th Generation [2 Years Warranty - Apple Offical Licensed Brand]
Offered by noot products
Price: $15.99
3 used & new from $15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost twice as long as Apple, half the cost, and works perfectly even with a case, July 31, 2014
This cable is one of the better third party cables I have used. Of course, you buy third party cables chiefly due to the price, but this one has the added advantage of being 6 feet long as well. Many third party cables fail because the lightning connector doesn't fit well or the boot on the lightning connector is too large. In the case of the Noot cable, the lightning connector itself is exactly right, and the boot around the connector is slim just like the iPhone cable. I had no problem plugging it into my iPhone despite the AmazonBasics case I use. Many other third party cables don't work with cases.

To top it off, the cable is thin and flexible so it is easy to route on my desk. I also appreciate that the company name is clearly printed on the cable so it is clearly a third party cable. Many similar cables don't print their name and try to look OEM.

Overall, this is a fine choice for a cable that is almost twice as long as the Apple cable, costs less, and works fine!

Note: I received a free sample for the purposes of review.


Eachine 1pc 3.7V 18650 3000mah Protected Rechargeable Li-ion Battery for Flashlight Toy
Eachine 1pc 3.7V 18650 3000mah Protected Rechargeable Li-ion Battery for Flashlight Toy
Offered by Eachinedirect
Price: $10.99
2 used & new from $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine batteries for your flashlight needs - hold a good charge and no issues so far, July 31, 2014
Anyone who loves LED flashlights will know that many now require a "new" type of battery, the 18650. These can be quite pricey to buy in stores (or impossible to find in stores). I have evaluated both the 3000mAH and the 1800mAH varieties offered by Eachine, and both seem to be quality batteries that power my flashlights and hold a nice charge. I have charged and discharged them a few times, and they all perform similar to my other batteries of the same type. They are clearly labeled with capacity and are recommended.

Note: I received a free sample for the purposes of review.


Money Mania: Booms, Panics, and Busts from Ancient Rome to the Great Meltdown
Money Mania: Booms, Panics, and Busts from Ancient Rome to the Great Meltdown
by Bob Swarup
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.09
66 used & new from $11.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting if incomplete book on the history of monetary panics, July 31, 2014
This book offers a deep and extensive historical perspective on the history of monetary panics in the world. The author himself is actually a cosmologist who works in finance, and his perspective seems to reflect that upringing. He demonstrates that economics boom/bust cycles are not recent inventions but have their history going way back through time in the history of various economies. The book is fun to read and quite instructive. In many chapters, he dispels economic myths, for instance, showing that many economic crashes which we ascribe to a single penultimate event are often years or decades in the making. The classic example is the Great Depression, an event signaled by a stock market crash but not caused by it. In fact, many economic contractions over the years start to sound quite similar as mankind repeats the same mistakes again and again.

My one qualm on the book is that as analytical as the author may be, he sometimes glosses over historical perspective that an erudite economist would feel the need to discuss. I'l present just one example. He accurately portrays many of the economic events that led up to the Great Depression. Then, with a rhetorical wave of the hand, dismisses the rest of the 1930's saying, "By the latter half of the 1930s, almost all economies had recovered strongly, buoyed by a massive Keynesian stimulus. Unfortunately, much of that stimulus had gone on building tanks, battleships, and fighter planes." In an odd stroke, the author both affirms a myth (that WWII ended the depression) and sort of debunks the myth at the same time (the stimulus went into weapons of war). Government interventions in the wartime economy (including price controls) greatly distorted measures of net GDP, but did not improve people's daily lives. Most economic well-being is measured by employment in non-war industries and purchase of economic goods that improve their lives. People want food and furniture, not tanks and bombs. In other words, there was a third phase to the Great Depression - the "recovery" which deserved more than 1 paragraph in a book of this nature. It is possible Swarup also doesn't believe that war brings economic prosperity, but his odd phraseology would leave many readers confused.

Overall, it's a recommended book because despite some possible inaccuracies or clarity issues, it is still an interesting read from both a historical and economic perspective

Note: I received a free copy from the publisher for the purposes of review


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