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Mr. Deeds "Opportunity is limited only by imagination. -Charles F. Kettering" RSS Feed (Columbus, Ohio)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

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Epson WorkForce WF-2660 All-In-One Wireless Color Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax
Epson WorkForce WF-2660 All-In-One Wireless Color Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax
Price: $119.99
3 used & new from $119.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Compact, fast and full of convenient cloud-sharing options, October 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've tested several printers over the years, many of them Epsons, and the Epson WorkForce WF-2660 continues the manufacturer's tradition of offering high-quality all-in-one printers that are affordable and relatively well-made.

I have always used a wooden folding TV tray to hold my printer, which I keep next to my desk in my home office. This same tray table has served this purpose for more than 10 years! With past printers of various makers, both sides would hang off a bit. However, with its compact size, the WorkForce WF-2660 fits completely - with 1.5 inches to spare on each side. Depth-wise it also completely fits atop the tray table. Due to the Epson WorkForce WF-2660's speed of printing, there is a little wobble when printing but it has not effected print quality (no blurs).

One feature I really like is "Epson Connect," a Web-based interface accessible by computer, tablet of smartphone. With Epson Connect you can:
- Print remotely from anywhere
- Manage settings: paper size, enable/disable photo paper printing, and more
- Scan to PC, email or "the cloud" (Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box,
- View print log

I like the option of 2-sided printing, however, for me it's only available when making copies, NOT printing documents. I've attempted to rule out user-error because I've checked and double checked every possible setting and connection. I have tried it with all 3 Macs in our house (we don't have a PC to test with the printer). I also checked with support and I'll edit this review with a fix (even if it was due to "user error" on my end) when I get that sorted out. Again, not sure if this is a general issue or a local one. :-)

2-sided printing is excellent for making color copies of brochures and also for printing short stories I write on occasion that I like to put into a binder and mail (snail mail) out to friends and family.

The Epson WorkForce WF-2660, in a nutshell:

Pros:
* Prints text and images fast - very fast!
* Text is very close to laser-printer quality
* Wireless connectively (wi-fi) = no wires and enables remote accessibility features.
* Touch-screen LED interface on printer
* Compact - smaller footprint then its Epson all-in-one predecessors.
* Scan documents/photos directly to your PC, an email address or cloud service.
* Prints excellent photos using photo paper and appropriate photo printing setting.
* Epson Connect: Web-based interface accessible by computer, tablet of smartphone. With Epson Connect you can:
- Print remotely from anywhere
- Manage settings: paper size, enable/disable photo paper printing, and more
- Scan to PC, email or "the cloud" (Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box,
- View print log

Cons:
* 2-sided printing only available when making copies, not printing documents. At least for this Mac user. Again, I'll update if I can enable it.
* Image printing is very good but not laser-printer quality on regular documents (reports, etc.) BUT printing photos with photo paper is another story A+ there for the high quality. Just wanted to point out that if printing reports, the images are not quite (close though) the caliber of glossy brochures.

In summary, the Epson WorkForce WF-2660 is an well-designed and economical all-in-one printer that's compact, fast and full of convenient cloud-sharing features.


Mega Bloks Call of Duty Ghosts Tactical Helicopter
Mega Bloks Call of Duty Ghosts Tactical Helicopter
Price: $61.38
14 used & new from $61.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun for big kids (old guys) too!, October 24, 2014
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been a Call of Duty gamer and fan for several years and am eagerly awaiting the Nov. 3 release of "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare." And with more than 950 pieces, I really enjoyed building the Mega Bloks Call of Duty Ghosts Tactical Helicopter in my man cave above the garage. There is a platform area to the side of the stairs that is an ideal showcase.

The directions are not ideal but what is ideal is that each section is packaged together so you can focus on building out part by part, piece by piece. I am not the fastest model builder and it took me around 12 hours total spread out over a week.

This is the first model I've worked on in around 3 years and what I really like is the fact that glue is not needed. And the attention to detail is impressive, from the tools to the firearms. Working on this brought me back to my childhood a bit, back to when I collected G.I. Joe figures and accessories.

Building the helicopter was challenging at times but always fun and the end result was worth the efforts. It looks great in my man cave where I have my guitars, old beer signs and Xbox One - and I look forward to adding to my Mega Bloks Call of Duty Ghosts collection as new items are introduced.

Two thumbs up from this old-man gamer!


SKLZ AccuStrap Trigger Release Massage Balls with Stretch Strap
SKLZ AccuStrap Trigger Release Massage Balls with Stretch Strap
Price: $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple design but effective, October 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I work from home but sit behind a desk all day and have been using the SKLZ AccuStrap ball every 3 hours or so with some simple stretches recommended by the maker.

It's especially effective at helping me relieve a spot on my back right shoulder that tends to get and hold a stubborn knot. For that relief alone this is worth 5 stars.

But I also use it to help me warm up before swimming and lifting weights. The device is very study with a simple design that works well with basic stretches. The SKLZ AccuStrap ball is now part of my daily routine. My two large dogs actually got hold of it, apparently for a few hours, and it was none the worse for wear - very sturdy. (The dogs also loved it. :)


NOCO Genius Boost GB30 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
NOCO Genius Boost GB30 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
Price: $129.95
7 used & new from $129.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Big piece of mind with a small footprint, October 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The GB30 NOCO Genius Boost is nearly 80% smaller than the old backup jump starter that has been in my trunk for around 5 years.

In fact it's so small (8.6 x 5 x 4.7 inches) that I've taken it with me on a couple of business trips - keeps my iPhone and Kindle fully charged. (Of course I leave the clips at home)

No more awkward crouching at outlets at airport gates! With the cables it's 2.6 pounds - the device itself is about 1 pound (and of course I leave those at home when flying).

I also love that the GB30 doesn't take up much space in my car. And the piece of mind is HUGE knowing my family won't be stranded due to a dead battery - in addition to the excellent flash/hazard light.

I'm also amped that the GB30 works on ALL size vehicles. I use my John Deere riding mower all year round (grass cutting, snow plowing, debris hauling) and was very inconvenienced with a dead battery last winter. We also have a backup generator that has a 12-volt battery starter (it's easier then using the pull-cord) and I don't always remember to check the battery. If I could add one feature it would be an outlet for devices like my MacBook Pro - though I do realize that such a big device would quickly drain the GB30 - it would be great to have that option.

The GB30 NOCO Genius Boost is a valuable part of my car's emergency box.


Timex Men's T5K582 "Ironman" Watch with Black Resin Band
Timex Men's T5K582 "Ironman" Watch with Black Resin Band
Price: $55.77
7 used & new from $45.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the '90s (and loving it), October 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had an Ironman watch like this back in the early 1990s after seeing Bill Clinton wearing one. That watch served me well for several years - and this one looks to do the same. I love the big orange button under the face for activating the stopwatch, which I use to time 30-second intervals between sets when working out at the local family YMCA. I also use it to keep time for my laps when swimming. Looks and feels good on my wrist and I also like seeing the day of the week, month, day in one glance.

The "occasions" feature is intriguing (I set my wife's birthday and our anniversary in there just to be safe). I've already used the timezone feature a couple of times and it's handy once setup. I probably will never use all 3 alarm options but it's good to know it's there just in case.


U.S. Divers Malibu Silicone Free Diving Mask Snorkel Set, Clear
U.S. Divers Malibu Silicone Free Diving Mask Snorkel Set, Clear
Offered by Bay 15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and easy to adjust; well made and comfortable, October 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The new U.S. Divers Free Diving mask and snorkel is comfortable and the adjustable straps are fast and easy to work with. It's well made and I really like the included mesh bag - very convenient for travel and storage. No leaks and there is not an issue with unusual fogging.

Free-divers utilize two positions: horizontal and inverted. Inverted free dives are the most well-known, those when you go straight down. I prefer inverted free dives, but since I'm landlocked in Ohio, I only get to the ocean once a year for vacation. In the meantime I practice horizontal free dives to keep fit a couple times a week at the local family YMCA.

Free-divers use three fin strokes: the flutter, frog and dolphin. I use the flutter when diving vertically in the ocean but use the dolphin for my horizontal free dives. For horizontal dives I also use a Finis Yellow Foil Monofin - it's basically two fins fused together into one big fin. I like to be about 2 feet below the surface and can cross the span of the Olympic-size pool in one breath. I do around 10 laps like this with a 60-second rest in-between, and then do 10 more on the surface breathing regularly through the snorkel. Water does not get into the snorkel and I am impressed by that.

Before testing the U.S. Divers Free Diving mask and snorkel set I had been using goggles and nose plugs. The plugs are needed because I am moving through the water at a good clip and water is forced up my nose without them. However, the nose plugs are uncomfortable and usually come loose. The covered nose of the U.S. Divers mask solves that issue. And because it's designed with a low profile for fast-moving free dives, the mask stays on well despite the pressure.

I also tested this U.S. Divers mask and snorkel in the other swimming pool at the local Y, one with a deep end of 12-feet that's regularly used in scuba diving classes. When diving vertically I actually want the snorkel to fill up with water - otherwise that trapped air adds a "cork" effect and makes it harder to remain submerged. It also took me some time to get used to not having to "purge" the snorkel on the surface. Because this is designed for free dives, I'm deducting one star for the "cork" effect. However, if you are more of a traditional snorkeler, then this wouldn't be an issue. This also isn't a problem during my laps but I wanted to point it out for this review.

Hope this review helps and please share any questions below.


Pioneer Elite SC-85 9.2-Channel Class D3 Network A/V Receiver with HDMI 2.0
Pioneer Elite SC-85 9.2-Channel Class D3 Network A/V Receiver with HDMI 2.0
Price: $1,599.00
5 used & new from $1,189.95

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supports what I have now with lots of room to grow, October 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Pioneer Elite SC-85 receiver elevated the sound and performance of my existing home theater experience -- and with its support of next-generation technologies, this receiver will enable me to make significant speaker and television upgrades throughout the months and years ahead.

(Before I proceed, note that Dolby Atmos speakers and a wi-fi connection are NOT required and both are 100% optional. I'll explain more below).

My setup includes two 130-watt Onkyo Floor-standing Speakers (front right and front left) and five 300-watt Sony 5.1 channel surround-sound speakers (center, surround right, surround left, surround back right and surround back left). Even with the same speakers, replacing my aging 5.1 channel Sony receiver with the Pioneer Elite SC-85 made a very noticeable improvement to overall sound when watching movies and TV on my Samsung 4K Ultra HD.

The main benefits of this receiver in order of importance (to me, at least):

* HDMI 2.0 for 4K Ultra HD: Released by the nonprofit HDMI forum in September 2013, HDMI 2.0 supports high-resolution 4K TVs.

* Class D3 amplification: The receiver uses electronic switches as opposed to linear gain devices as in older amplifiers, making it more efficient than analog amplifiers with less power dissipated as heat.

* Dolby Atmos: A surround-sound technology released by Dolby Labs in April 2012, was made available to home theater speaker manufacturers in June 2014. The technology enables an unlimited number of audio tracks to be distributed to specially designed Atmos speakers. Note that very, very few Blu-Ray movies support Atmos at present. In fact I could only find one, "Transformers: Age of Extinction." Dolby and Paramount announced (Oct. 3, 2014) that the upcoming Nov. 4 release of "Hercules" and the Dec, 16 release of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" will both include Dolby Atmos mixes. Lionsgate also announced that the Nov. 4 release of "Step Up All In" will have an Atmos track.
I do not have Atmos speakers and will wait to see if the technology is widely adopted before getting any.

The initial setup of the Pioneer Elite SC-85 was not easy but not too difficult. I'd put it at a 3 on a scale where 5 is extremely difficult and 1 was extremely easy.

After connecting everything I turned on the receiver and my television and only the faintest of sound was coming from one of the speakers. I thought I'd messed something up and went about re-connecting everything.

Turns out I needed to run the "Auto Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration" setup (page 8 in the user guide). In my view this could have been referred to on Page 2 to avoid confusion regarding wi-fi.

This is where a camera tripod comes in handy. Plug in the included microphone -- it has a very long cord. Attach it to a tripod and place it roughly at ear-level of where you watch TV. I placed it behind our sofa, in the middle.

Next, push the "MAIN" button at the top of the remote (the text "RECEIVER" is above it). Then click the "ENTER" button when you see a prompt to "START" on the receiver's display. (Note: The user manual indicated that instructions would be displayed on my television but that never happened - and I was able to do it all via the receiver's display).

During this automatic process each speaker in my system made a series of rapid-fire sounds during the calibration process. Afterwards, I was enjoying amazing surround sound!

For me the hardest part was wrapping the stereo wire correctly because space was a bit tight on the back of the receiver for my big clumsy hands. Connecting the TV and satellite box via HDMI was a snap. I also used an optical cable.

I was confused, initially, about needing a wi-fi connection -- or direct connection to my modem -- for setup. While the The Pioneer Elite SC-85 is capable of connecting to wi-fi, doing so is 100% optional and is NOT required to fully enjoy this receiver. It is NOT needed to setup/calibrate the speakers. And sadly the company decided not to include a wi-fi antenna so the purchase of the Pioneer AS-WL300 wireless LAN converter is required ($120.22 on Amazon as of this posting).

For me, the main advantage of connecting to my local wi-fi network would be to get the latest firmware updates -- which will probably be necessary at some point.

Other benefits of wi-fi connection:
* iControlAV5 app for Android and iOS (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) -- turns the device into a remote control.
And support for...
* Pandora internet radio
* Roku (streaming video service)
* Spotify

Luckily no wi-fi is required to connect your smartphone, tablet, iPod, etc. There is a jack specifically for USB and I enjoy being able to connect my iPhone - though I make a point of putting it on Airplane mode first.

In summary: The Pioneer Elite SC-85 receiver supports what I have now and is ready to take my home theater system to a new level as I make upgrades to my speakers over the coming months and years. Two thumbs up!


DeLonghi AC150 Energy Star Air Purifier with Ionizer, 150 Square Feet
DeLonghi AC150 Energy Star Air Purifier with Ionizer, 150 Square Feet
Price: $309.99
10 used & new from $309.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact, quiet & really cleans the air, September 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 2:25 Mins

The DeLonghi AC150 is light weight and quiet (though the fan does get noisy when it's actively cleaning the air; once the light turns blue it quiets down significantly). The ionizer option makes a difference - the air feels fresher with it on. There is only one filter to replace on this unit, the HEPA/Active Carbon filter. The prefilter is washable. Both snap out and in fast and easy.

I have allergies but I've been breathing much easier since placing the DeLonghi AC150 Air Purifier in the bedroom. My video review explains (and shows) the unit in more detail. If you have any questions afterward, please share those in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer them. Two thumbs up!


Koss BT540i Full Size Bluetooth Headphones, Black with Silver Trim
Koss BT540i Full Size Bluetooth Headphones, Black with Silver Trim
Price: $199.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Big, bold sound! No wires is HUGE, September 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've tested several pairs of headphones over the years (all of them wired) and the Koss BT540i blows them away. And while these are not noise-cancelling headphones, your music can be heard very well in noisy places - I tested them at the gym and also on a short flight. And the noise leakage (when people next to you can hear your music) is very, very low.

There are so many things I love about these headphones, but in a nutshell...

Pros:
* Excellent sound - big bass... rock out!
* Very light weight and extremely comfortable
* No wires! (though there is an option to use a wired connection when Bluetooth isn't an option)
* Bluetooth pairing is fast and easy
* Phone feature works extremely well
* Rechargeable battery (included)
* Intuitive controls on the earphones - so for example, when working out, if the phone/tablet isn't within reach you can still change tracks, adjust the volume, pause (and as I mentioned take calls).
* The headphones store flat in a semi-soft case that makes them idea for travel.

Cons:
* None yet

I'll never go back to a corded headphone! I love the Koss BT540i and give it two thumbs way up.


Southern Enterprises Angiers Wine Display Cocktail/Coffee Table
Southern Enterprises Angiers Wine Display Cocktail/Coffee Table

5.0 out of 5 stars Pottery Barn looks!, September 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When Amazon asked me to review this coffee table I must admit I was expecting something similar to tables I've purchased in the past from Ikea and Target. Once assembled, it looks like something sold at Pottery Barn. The table is heavy and it is solid. I unpacked it on the driveway where it was delivered and carried it up to the family room piece by piece. The tabletop is all one piece (solid) and I needed my wife to help me carry that inside.

Assembly took me 20 minutes and I am by no means handy. You have to use one of those little "L" shaped tools to install the legs (two pieces because each side is one solid piece). Just 4 screws (2 for each side) which you have to install from inside one of the wine slots - it was a bit awkward but the advantage is that you cannot see any screws from the outside. Makes the table look like a single piece - very nice touch.

The bottom rails are another awkward thing to install - not difficult but a bit awkward. I had to screw it down and there wasn't (that I could see) a pre-cut hole. So you have to power the screw in. I probably should have used my drill but it was easy enough with the hand screwdriver.

Lastly I put the two glass squares in place on top - they fit perfectly and are high-quality, beveled glass (tempered, too). The two draws on each side were already assembled.

I absolutely love this coffee table. We put a few bottles of wine inside and I used 5 of the slots for remote controls (TV, stereo, Xbox, etc.). The slots would also be perfect for displaying small collectibles like trains, figurines, etc.

This is a heavy, solid and well designed table and my wife and I both love it. I am very impressed and give it 5 out of 5 stars (and one "cheers" from my glass of wine). :)


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