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David Kusumoto RSS Feed (San Diego, CA United States)

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FunKo 6218 Pop! Star Wars, BB-8, Bobble-Head Figures, 3.75-Inch
FunKo 6218 Pop! Star Wars, BB-8, Bobble-Head Figures, 3.75-Inch
24 used & new from $17.95

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you need to know about this awesome BB-8., December 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)

1. BB-8's head has very little "spring-action," which is actually perfect for a toy figure of this size. I wouldn't want it sagging or swinging all over the place. It's not a true bobble-head, and BB-8's head does move when you touch it. But please DON'T twist BB-8's head because you'll hurt his feelings and pop his head off. We all know that the heads of droids can be fixed, but still.

2. BB-8's black colored base is detachable - and BB-8 himself can sit on your desk without it. He's held onto the base by an upraised groove that fits into his bottom, which is flat. (See pictures.)

3. BB-8's torso feels nice and "weighty." I wouldn't call him a paperweight, but a soft breeze isn't gonna knock him down. He's really better as a decorative item for your desk or display case - than as a real toy.

4. Paint and details look good enough at this price.

5. In my view, this FunKo toy offers WAY MORE VALUE than the motorized Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid - which - while pricey and aimed entirely at hard-core BB-8 fans - would end up being an expensive gadget in my home, something that I'd grow tired of within a few weeks, causing buyer's remorse.


1. As noted above, this is not a true "bobble-head."

2. No two BB-8s are exactly alike, so check the paint when you get yours. The pair I bought were fine, but there are differences that only a retentive person would care about.

3. Although advertised as being OK for ages 3 and up - in my view, be aware that if this becomes your kid's favorite toy - those cute antennas on BB-8's head will break off. BB-8 will be sad and you, the adult Star Wars fan - might tear up. Again, I think this BB-8 is best for display. I cringe at the thought of this little guy being tossed around like a plush doll.

4. Box condition will vary. This matters only to people who collect toys with their original boxes intact - who never take them out to have fun. (Those of you with the Force will truly find this behavior disturbing.) No matter what I say about the zillions of these being made, that this is NOT a limited edition, that 40 years from now - this toy won't accrue more than sentimental value - some will insist on a pristine box. Forget about it. I would only insist on a nice box if you plan to give BB-8 as a gift. Take this little guy out and ENJOY! He's in a galactic prison already if you leave him in the box!
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The Japanese Lover: A Novel
The Japanese Lover: A Novel
by Isabel Allende
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.80
75 used & new from $9.08

128 of 133 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic romance, swiftly told, featuring an infinite series of "what ifs?", November 4, 2015
* I was drawn to this book's provocative title because of three reasons: 1) I'm a Japanese-American who was born in Japan; 2) my extended family was touched by racial tensions during and after World War II, including incarceration in U.S. internment camps, and, 3) my wife is not Asian (she's Hispanic). Noting the aforementioned, I requested and was approved to receive an advance review copy from the publisher - without committing to write a review.

* When it comes to matters of love and romance - why do some of us, with just one shot at life - choose safer harbors - despite being lucky enough to meet someone who's truly "the one"? When forced to think about the "one who got away" - obviously regrets are framed in higher relief as we pass 50, 60, 70 and - if we're like the Polish-American matriarch in this novel (Alma Belasco) - pass age 80 and beyond.

* Author Isabel Allende's huge base of mostly female readers - just added a male fan. "The Japanese Lover," with a few exceptions, is a wonderful read, an epic romance that stretches from 1939 to 2013. It adds a wrinkle to the interracial "forbidden love" trope - by featuring a pairing between a Caucasian woman and an Asian man - which in my view, is still far less common in the U.S. today compared to pairings between Asian women and Caucasian men.

* Despite the 74-year-long timeline, the writing and plotting in "The Japanese Lover" moves smartly and swiftly, combining historic events with an international romance that endures many credible obstacles. Readers are taken from Poland to Texas to San Francisco - as the author integrates a vast array of observations through dialogue and exposition, i.e., the desperate exodus of Jews before the Holocaust - the internment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. - the cultural differences between peoples, East vs. West - the state of interracial relations in America, then vs. now - the life-long impacts of child pornography on its victims - the working culture inside assisted living and nursing homes - the ideology behind secret suicide planning among the terminally ill - the state of gay sub-culture before the 1970s - the politics of left vs. right in liberal San Francisco - and, most crucially to this story - the socio-economic class divisions and their relationship to women who choose mates for security and comfort - vs. women who choose mates based on romantic matters of the heart, despite their adverse impact on social status and on affluent lifestyles.

* This book may not be considered great literature, because the threads and pathways related to forbidden love are well-worn, e.g., the author invokes the familiar trick of using present day Millennials to inspire an old woman to "look back" - while proffering the suggestion that racial differences become less salient to romance as time marches on. And in terms of character development, the women in this tale fare better than the men - insofar that Ichimei ("Ichi") Fukuda - the eponymous "Japanese Lover" - feels mildly opaque compared to his enigmatic heroine, Alma Belasco. Veteran Allende fans have pointed out how and why this novel fell short compared to her earlier works, and they're not wrong.

* Yet "The Japanese Lover" - for the first-time Allende reader - is still entertaining and well-paced, capturing a love affair that feels neither cheap nor tawdry nor explicit - while sub-textually presenting grand themes about aging and how they affect the way we look at past relationships - which in turn conjures up the old ponderable - that romance might be just an infinite series of "what ifs?" - while everything else is "life as it all turned out." While some might feel let down by the ending, I loved it because - without giving it away - it suggests that self-deception among mature adults is common to preserve a euphoria - that we once felt would be as eternal as our own youth.

* In sum, past regrets and guilt gives way to resignation - and finally - to a satisfied acceptance of a life well-lived, making the most of what's given as we pass quickly through the universe. This book is a winner. Grade: A-.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 3, 2016 1:50 PM PST

TuningPros LEDML-T10-W1 Map Light LED Light Bulbs T10 Wedge, 1 LED White 2-pc Set
TuningPros LEDML-T10-W1 Map Light LED Light Bulbs T10 Wedge, 1 LED White 2-pc Set
Offered by TuningPros
Price: $4.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Wasn't used to the bluish light cast by these LED bulbs, but they are a great value., October 16, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* After you've confirmed that these are the correct bulbs for your car, make sure that you KNOW how to replace the old ones. More likely than not - after you install these bulbs, you'll never have to do it again. (The life of these things go WAY beyond the life of a typical car.)

* Take the "clearish" plastic panel off - (or "lens" as the industry calls it) - with an extremely light touch. Check videos online on how to remove a map or dome light lens on your car before you do this - or you'll break the fittings which hold them. I used a tiny screwdriver and I made sure I didn't scratch the finish.

* When you see your old bulbs - PULL THEM STRAIGHT OUT. DO NOT TWIST. Use rubber gloves or something that will grip the bulb - and not your fingers nor a napkin which will slip your grip.

* WARNING - On many bulb sockets, you'll see what looks like two ridges on each side that will tempt you to twist them. DON'T DO IT. The socket is connected to a circuit board - and NOT to actual wiring, and they cannot be removed from the front. Twisting the sockets runs the risk of losing the socket AND the bulb back behind the assembly - which will force you - as it did for me - to take the whole thing apart with heavy duty plastic wedges to retrieve it. If this happens to you, I recommend the Nyberglas Auto Trim Removal Tool Kit - which is great for prying out moldings to the fixtures in your car - without messing up your cloth, metal, leather or vinyl finish.

* Push the new bulbs straight in. Before you put back the plastic map lens cover over it, test the bulbs using the switch to your map light - or by opening and closing your door, however you've configured your car's settings.

* Note - LED bulbs are not incandescent bulbs. These cast a bluish, almost "fluorescent light in a freezer room" kind of glow, and NOT the warm yellowish tones for which many are accustomed with "regular bulbs." I didn't like them at first, but over time, I got used to them and they're now fine and cast a bright enough light. This is the way of the world now as more devices use LED or fluorescent bulbs, especially flashlights - foregoing the "ancient" technology of the incandescents.

* Because I want uniformity of lighting in my car, I plan to get more of these to replace the lights in my door, dome and trunk lights. Grade: A.

Pocket Hose Top Brass by BulbHead (50 ft)
Pocket Hose Top Brass by BulbHead (50 ft)
Offered by Direct Sales Online
Price: $27.62
24 used & new from $12.90

1.0 out of 5 stars Maybe when firefighters start using them, I'll change my mind..., October 15, 2015
* I bought the Pocket Hose Top Brass directly from its distributor in Van Nuys, CA - and it arrived five weeks later even though I live three hours south in greater San Diego. Why I didn't check Amazon first was a senior moment I'll never understand.


* The hose expands as advertised.

* The hose is light weight.

* The connectors are strong.

* That's it! Like the earlier expandable hoses before it, you're never told that the best use for this product is for light gardening only and you CANNOT store it outdoors. If you're lucky, you might be able to wash down the side of a house a couple of times, but after that, forget it.


* The hose is NOT compatible with universal nozzles. Unless you buy the proprietary nozzle sold separately by its makers, good luck trying to spray anything - without water dribbling all over your hands and arms.

* Unlike standard hoses - you CANNOT store this hose outside. And after each use, you must expel the water from the hose manually - and store it indoors. Why? Because the very material that makes it light weight - deteriorates quickly by UV rays and heat from the sun. This hose is made of an outer-colored expandable fabric - with an inner core of expandable woven netting, which surrounds expandable plastic through which water flows. All of these materials degrade quickly unless they're stored in climate-controlled conditions. What a riot.

* The third time I used the hose, a strange bulge formed at a spot about halfway down its length. If you read other reviews, you'll learn the hose will develop weak spots that are ONLY revealed when water is flowing through it.

* This creates the potential of the hose bursting under high pressure. The inner-most lining is as thin as a plastic bag. If tiny obstructions or weak spots develop anywhere, the inner core will fail first and water will pour out of the side instead of through the end.

* If you're using this hose for light use and are OK with storing it INDOORS - this is a good product. But if you plan to use it like your clunky but reliable garden hose with a high pressure nozzle, don't bother. I like a hose that I don't have to think about. I knew I was in trouble when the hose arrived with a small sheet of paper with warnings and INSTRUCTIONS. Imagine, a hose with instructions. That's a first for me.

* I did get my refund, but I lost money on the shipping and handling gouge for a defective product - AND - I had to pay for the return. And the customer service rep insisted my return be trackable "en route" - in other words, delivery confirmation alone was not recommended. In the end, I took a NET LOSS.

* In sum, expandable hoses are a fad that are still in the "beta" stages of development. Maybe when firefighters start using them, I'll change my mind.
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Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Price: $16.19

152 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even President Obama warned her..., September 30, 2015
* I received an advance review copy from a friend a few weeks ago and I have to say that whether or not you're a Hillary fan - "Unlikeable" is as compelling as author Edward Klein's previous two examinations about the Clintons - or more to the point - his examinations of the Clintons' RELATIONSHIPS with other big wheels in Washington. Because other readers have already written summaries about what Hillary - according to Klein - is all about, I'll focus on just two (2) of the many takeaways I got from this book.

* 1 of 2) - As a journalist, I ask again - how much of Klein's work is true? However objectionable it is that most of Klein's sources are anonymous - I reach the inescapable conclusion that the more unflattering assertions against Hillary are highly placed and credible members of the Democratic Party. Why? Because it's hard to believe any GOP operative could poach incendiary word-for-word conversations between the Clintons and others - without being physically in the same rooms. The irony is much of the inflammatory material in "Unlikeable" appears - to me, anyway - to be coming NOT from right-wing partisans - but from satellite extensions of the Clintons themselves.

* And the elephant in the room that bolsters Klein's credibility - is that Klein himself, a self-admitted JFK fan and a former editor at Newsweek, Vanity Fair and the New York Times Magazine - has never been successfully sued for libel - nor have any of his books been successfully discredited as being loaded with patent lies. If untrue, there would be more than enough to warrant the Clintons suing Klein and his publishers for libel. But it hasn't happened (yet), dating back to Klein's first book about Hillary in 2005. (In Journalism 101 we're taught that Truth is the best defense against libel - and that public figures like Hillary must prove malice - AND - that blatant untruths have been printed which have caused irreparable harm.)

* If you're a Hillary fan, you have every right to regard "Unlikeable" as tabloid filth, but that's an opinion, not a fact, framed by what you bring to the table. When the same type of books are written about GOP figures, your emotions may provide a better sense of what I'm talking about.

* 2 of 2) - At this snapshot in time - the most "contemporaneously relevant" slice of material in this more than 250-page book has to do with the controversy over Hillary's decision to install a private email server when she was U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to early 2013. Without apology or qualification, Klein asserts that President Obama - and key members of his administration - explicitly warned Hillary to not do it, despite her paranoia about snooping enemies resulting from her many years as a public figure.

* I admit I do get the feeling that the President's closest personal adviser, Valerie Jarrett, has a key role in campaign and policy strategy, including the release of adverse information against Hillary. Nothing gets by her and this might explain, 1) why so many "insiders" were willing - (or got permission) - to air the Clintons' dirty laundry to Edward Klein, and, 2) why the President's own administration - (and not some right-wing conspiracy) - is more responsible for the FBI's investigation of the email server issue - to proceed without obstruction. When the heat turned up against Hillary, she asked the President to help, i.e., to "call off his dogs." According to Klein, the President turned Hillary down.

* In sum, "Unlikeable" may be a lot of things, but it is not boring, Based on what was revealed previously about the sour relations between the Clintons and the Obamas in Klein's "Blood Feud" (2014) - the behind-the-scenes narrative remains unchanged. It's true that millions love and admire Hillary Clinton outside of Washington. But inside the Beltway, she is feared and resented by enough people at the highest reaches of the Democratic Party - adding another layer of woe on top of the antipathy she has long gotten from the GOP. She might still get the White House because of the fracturing of the GOP, even though Vice President Joseph Biden appeared to have less baggage being his authentic self, e.g., the same guy in public and private, untouched by scandals, real or imagined, a loyalist to the President in ways that Hillary was not.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 4, 2016 12:32 PM PST

Did You Ever Have a Family
Did You Ever Have a Family
by Bill Clegg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.66
121 used & new from $6.08

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grabs your attention but doesn't hold it. Left me in a confused daze., September 27, 2015
* I think initial sales of this critically acclaimed book will be good because readers will be drawn to a fabulous premise that taps into our fears about titanic familial loss.

* But Bill Clegg's "Did You Ever Have A Family" - (note the absence of a question mark in the title) - forces us to over-guess and over-speculate everything as it rolls out about a dozen characters with their own chapters - some relevant, some not at all. This is an obviously humorless book that requires, despite its modest length, some effort to finish. And I lay the blame on the author's choice to jump from one point of view to another, creating confusion and disabling sustained emotional engagement. It presents too many takes about the instant loss of family members in an accident of mundane origin. There are some good reflections offered, e.g., exploring the "what could have beens and what should have beens" - and the resentments and gossip which are an infuriating part of humans reacting to traumas.

* However, it becomes clear by chapter four - that the author cares less about what killed the family - and more about how a humongous loss - generates diverse reactions. I'm getting tired of books with Rashomon-style narratives - so common in many novels - which feature too many points of view. This story shows promise, but was oddly not engrossing. For example, while some actions by the characters felt logical - others felt pointless, e.g., a woman in mourning ("Lydia") - is so starved for affection that she repeatedly and knowingly enables a con artist to scam her for thousands - just to hear his faceless voice on the phone expressing bogus words of love.

* Ultimately, this book's shattering set-up - suggests something important and vital will be explored about death. To me, it never happens. If the takeaway is death - and our reactions to it - are random and ordinary and beyond reason - well, the journey isn't worth it when there are too many exits off the freeway. What could've been a linear, punch-in-the-gut novel spotlighting the same truths presented by the author - gets bogged down in a "start-and-stop-and-restart" narrative that hurts readability and clarity. In sum, "Did You Ever Have A Family" feels like an epic road trip by people fleeing geographies of time, place and mind - who are all seeking answers to things they can't articulate nor are likely to reveal themselves. Acceptance might arrive for some, however real, illusory or transitory - but again, I felt this book was much tougher than expected to finish. Grade: B-

Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Teaspoons 36.8 Oz
Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber by Meta, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Teaspoons 36.8 Oz
Price: $22.88
11 used & new from $22.88

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WARNING - BE CAREFUL if you want to avoid sugar., September 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING THE CORRECT PRODUCT. Don't make the same mistake I did. The color scheme and markings for "sugared" and "sugar-free" orange-flavored Metamucil are nearly identical.

* If you're watching your weight and need to avoid sugar, buy this: Metamucil Multi-Health Fiber, Orange Smooth Sugar Free 180 Doses / 36.8 Oz.

* DON'T BUY: Metamucil Orange Sugar Smooth Texture Powder 114 Doses / 48.2 oz.

* Note that standard orange-flavored Metamucil has 16 grams of sugar per serving - while the sugar-free version has 0 grams. The "sugared" version also comes in a bottle that is 12 ounces HEAVIER - but in a strange quirk of packaging - offers way FEWER doses, i.e., 114 "sugared" doses vs. 180 "sugar-free" doses.

* I've tried both products and in my view, the sugar-free product mixes better with tap water and leaves less gummy residue along the sides of your glass. And it tastes the same to me.

* In sum, "sugar-free" version costs a little more and weighs less - but you get 66 MORE doses. This gives you an idea of how much thicker and heavier "sugared" Metamucil is. Do the math and you'll see that the "sugar-free" version offers a better value. Just make sure your bottle has the "SUGAR FREE" BLUE STRIPE visible near the bottom. I hope this helps.

Cellairis - C3 Universal Bluetooth Headset Silver
Cellairis - C3 Universal Bluetooth Headset Silver

2.0 out of 5 stars What happens when you buy a Bluetooth headset for under $10?, September 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is among the least expensive Bluetooth-pairing-with-cellphone earpieces available and it's obvious why. While it pairs fine with most devices - it falls way short of being acceptable.

Its most glaring shortfall is sound quality. With outgoing calls, your friends can barely hear you, which suggests a poor microphone. And with incoming calls, you can barely hear what people are saying, which suggests a poor earpiece.

Naturally, at this price point, there isn't much if any customizing available. There is no volume control - and I can imagine this device would perform terribly outdoors. (All of my tests were conducted indoors without much ambient noise.)

If you need to save money but still want a higher grade device, may I suggest the aLLreLi® 3S BlueTooth 4.1 Wireless Headset w/ Microphone and Volume Control. It cost me only a few dollars more and it was worth it. This is what I bought when I returned this Cellairis C3 for a refund.

I'm not wild about over-paying for Bluetooth headsets and this alternate ALLreLI 3S model - while not perfect nor high-end - proved excellent for my needs.

The Top 10 Greatest American Women: Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, ... Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton
The Top 10 Greatest American Women: Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, ... Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Hillary Clinton
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A strange misfire from Charles River Editors..., September 24, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
* There's nothing partisan about what I'm about to write - but in my view, it is WAY too early to anoint Hillary Clinton as one of the 10 "GREATEST" women in American history.

* Whether you like the following names or not, you could make a case for others to join this list ahead of Mrs. Clinton, e.g., Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), Shirley Chisholm (first African American woman to run for president), Harriet Beecher Stowe (writer of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"), Betty Friedan (pioneering feminist) and Harriet Tubman (black abolitionist).

* Let's put some distance - namely, more years and decades - before definitive historical judgments are made about contemporaneous (still living) public figures.

* Many of the products by Charles River Editors provide "capsule summaries" of their subjects in a handy "booklet or pamphlet" format. This one, even at more than 400 pages - is no different. However, this is the first time I've encountered a Charles River title that undercuts efforts to preserve its historical credibility and integrity.

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo
Price: $179.99

370 of 414 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I ALMOST RETURNED THE ECHO, but I changed my mind. Here's why., June 25, 2015
This review is from: Amazon Echo (Electronics)
* I was one of the lucky Echo beta buyers in January who finally received it in May 2015 with the remote control included. Future buyers who want the remote will have to pay more to get it, and that's a shame.

* I like the remote because while the microphones in the top of the Echo are fine, whenever I'm in another room, I have to pivot my head towards the Echo - and speak louder and enunciate more clearly - to get it to understand me.

* With the remote you don't have to say the Echo wake-up word, "Alexa" before every command. You just press the microphone icon on the remote - speak - and Echo will respond. This is handy when I'm not in the kitchen where my Echo sits. The remote also has "next," "back," "volume up" and "volume down" buttons - which come in handy when you want to skip news stories or music tracks from your music library, Pandora, etc.

* As far as the Echo itself, there have already been thousands of reviews, so I'll summarize the following:


1 of 5. - At first, its primary function seemed redundant in my home. It felt like just another music player, augmented with a way to provide weather forecasts and sports scores conveniently. I didn't feel I needed another radio or music player, especially one that isn't portable.

2 of 5. - The Echo remains VERY limited in what it can do. It can't provide answers to MANY questions. You'll still have to use search engine links on a smart phone or computer to get what you need.

3 of 5. - After initial set-up - the Echo is still disproportionately dependent upon the Echo App to execute "custom commands." For example, if you ask Echo for your favorite sports team's won-loss record, it's stumped. If you ask Echo to give you the latest news near your home, it can't. Echo can only give you "global news" you can already get on CNN.

4 of 5. - The Echo App is only available for iPhones and Android phones. It's not available for Windows Phones. However much the Windows Phone and the Microsoft name are denigrated by many - Windows Phones are still among the top three operating smart phone systems in the world with more than 35 million users. I know that's a tiny number compared to Android and iOS - but it's still significant. My workaround is to use my wife's Android phone - or to go to my desktop - to make adjustments - or to access my "to-do and shopping lists." (More about those "lists" below.)

5 of 5. - There will be "new and improved" Echos available soon. And this worries me. Since this is the first of what will be many iterations of this device - I'm concerned that within a year or two - an "upgraded 2.0-like" Echo will roll out, rendering the Echo I have now obsolete. I thought I might return this, hold off for improvements to be made and then pay more for them later. (Akin to how the original Kindle evolved from the primitive device it once was - into the Kindle Paperwhite that has near universal acceptance today.)


1 of 4. - Despite its limitations, the Echo is a game changer. The fantasy of talking to a device that responds to voice commands - in open space - without touching a button - like the Hal 9000 computer in 1968's landmark film, "2001: A Space Odyssey" - is steps away from becoming as common as a microwave oven. A lot of kinks still need to be worked out, but if we can put a man on the moon in 1969, then an Echo that can do almost everything - in multiple rooms - is now within reach for consumers.

2 of 4. - Despite the Echo App not being available across all operating phone systems - its best asset right now might be the management of the aforementioned "shopping and to-do lists." Shopping lists are created mostly as items pop in our heads. The same for "to-do" lists. After getting past my gripes about Echo's "fun" functions as a music player - I realize how much I've enjoyed the convenience of seeing my lists pop up on the Echo App on a compatible smartphone with a good data plan outside my home. Unfortunately, you can't delete items mistakenly added to your shopping list by telling the Echo to remove them. You have to go to your Echo app and physically get rid of them. That's an unnecessary extra step.

3 of 4. - The more you get familiar with the Echo and the Echo Remote - which are inextricably linked to the Echo App, things get easier. If you ask Echo, "Alexa, what's the traffic like?" - she'll give the estimated commute time from your location to your office. You must first set up your destination in the Echo App, but after that, you don't have to think about it. You just ask. Another plus is Amazon IS CONSTANTLY UPDATING the functionality of the Echo via the Cloud, sending me email notices a few times a week about a new feature that's been added, e.g., controlling MORE appliances via what's called a "WinkHUB" - or creating custom commands via a website called "IFTTT" ("If This, Then That" - over at - which isn't hard to set-up.

4 of 4. - Most important. I am betting - given Amazon's history of improving functionality of its devices - while anticipating potential customer irritation if it releases the next Echo too soon - that most future improvements will be introduced as described above, i.e., via the Cloud - and not require hardware changes.

*** CONCLUSION... ***

In sum, after initial set-up, I want the Echo to become a truly "hands-free" device. If it can provide news about what's going on in my region - AND - if it can get "smarter" by incorporating more "text-to-speech" answers from a search engine - (instead of forwarding search links with potential answers to the Echo App) - I truly believe the Amazon Echo will be transformed from being a "novelty" gadget - into something indispensable found in every home.

Grade: B.
Comment Comments (38) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2015 9:04 PM PDT

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