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JCC "Tech Maven" RSS Feed (New York, NY United States)
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Pencil by FiftyThree - Graphite
Pencil by FiftyThree - Graphite
Price: $59.95
5 used & new from $49.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good but could have been designed better., June 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was looking forward to using Pencil after ordering it. I`ve been using 53's other product, Paper, ever since it was introduced as an app many years ago. I must admit that the product's packaging as well as the machining of the device itself is exquisite.

However, I think 53 made a mistake in the way they designed the pencil due to their criteria of embedding a USB battery charging connector within the pencil itself. This decision means that the overall form factor would need to be based on that restriction.

I think the pencil is too big as a stylus. It could have been designed to be much smaller and lighter. There are other ways of designing a charging connector that would have allowed for a much smaller form factor.

What's most unfortunate is that by letting the USB charging connector ultimately dictate the size of the pencil, they made the sensing tip too big for any delicate work. For example, when I try to draw a thin line across the page, it's difficult to judge where that fine line will end up exactly on the page. It becomes almost impossible if you have to continue that line further down the page unless you magnify the area. What they should have done was to design a thin pen and an even thinner sensor point so that users can match the tip to what's actually drawn on the page. I would rather have a thin pen that could draw a thick line on screen than the thick pen that draws a thin line.

The weight of the pencil is okay but I would have liked a lighter one. The pencil lasts quite a few hours although I haven't been able to do a scientific test to see just how many from beginning to end. The pencil does have a bit of a delay between when you draw or write something until it's registered onscreen. I'm not sure if that can be improved but it's more disconcerting when writing something than drawing something. The eraser on the top of the pencil works great as advertised.

Overall, I think this is a decent first effort by the team at 53. It's a good companion to have with the Paper app, although it's a little pricy. Let's hope that the next version would remove some of the constraints I pointed out above.


Vornado VFAN Vintage Whole Room Air Circulator, Green
Vornado VFAN Vintage Whole Room Air Circulator, Green
Price: $129.99
5 used & new from $129.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real Airflow, Great Fan, April 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is no ordinary fan. I recommend this fan to anyone who recognizes that in order to get quality, you have to pay for quality. This product will not disappoint. It functions on three speed levels, all quietly, and can be adjusted so that airflow can be moved manually 180 degrees. This is not an oscillating fan, but that is not detrimental to the great design of this product. It is quiet and safe. All moving parts are enclosed in this retro-looking, metal fan. The paint color is very attractive – muted green with brass-looking vent. What makes this fan different from any I have owned before is that it ventilates a room. It is advertised as a “whole room air circulator”, which is true. As a bonus, the product comes with a 5-year warranty. I’ve used small, plastic oscillating fans before, as well as larger fans, but none has had the effectiveness of this fan, which functions at a higher level consistent with its value. My only negative criticism of this product is that I would like the cord to be a little longer – it is 66”. Do not let this deter you, do what I do and switch outlets. I look forward to using this fan this summer to supplement our A/C unit and feel confident it will cool our sunny room faster than the air conditioning unit alone. Great fan.


Clarks Men's Originals Wallabee Run Oxford,Tuape,9 M US
Clarks Men's Originals Wallabee Run Oxford,Tuape,9 M US
Price: $70.68
17 used & new from $70.68

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most comfortable shoes, April 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These have some of the softest soles around for a casual shoe. They're equivalent to the Nike Free in terms of comfort. The toe box is also wide like the Nike Free. This was perfect for someone like me who usually likes to wear Nike Free but those runners are inappropriate for some situations where a real pair of shoes must be worn. Please note that they run a bit big. I usually wear size 9.5 in dress shoes and I had to go down to a 9 in these. I wear 10.5 in Nike Free just for comparison.

As far as getting it dirty? Just do as I do and go buy a can of the silicon waterproofing shoe spays and give it a good spray BEFORE your first use and water and dirt will roll off of these like buttta! It has kept mine looking nice and new for ages.

These are cheaper than Nike Frees and I'll definitely be buying more...

Update:
Ok, and this is important, after wearing these shoes for some time I discovered that even though you can fit into a smaller shoe, you should instead buy the exact size that you wear. In my original review above I sized down by a half to a 9 when my actual measured size is 9.5. Although the smaller one fits me just right leaving a little headroom in the front of my toes, I discovered that overtime, the way the shoes rolls when you push off with your feet, it will push your big toes towards your other toes so that it becomes sore after 15 minutes of walking. Even though the larger size feels like there's too much room in the front of your toes, it actually works as intended to keep your toes from getting squashed when you push off. So, stick to your actual size.


T-fal P2510737 Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free Pressure Cooker Cookware, 6.3-Quart, Silver
T-fal P2510737 Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free Pressure Cooker Cookware, 6.3-Quart, Silver
Price: $61.57
10 used & new from $50.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, February 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you have cooked with a pressure cooker before, as I have, you will find this T-Fal pressure cooker to be easy to use. If you have not used one before, do not be intimidated by the product and give it a try. In either case, be smart and read the instruction booklet before you use this cooker, including the first time trial with only water in the pot. T-Fal includes clear instructions with each part labeled A, B, C, etc. I like the clearly marked orange ring around the valve on the lid, enabling you to choose two pressure levels and to match the dot for steam release—easy. The pressure cooker is low and wide, but sufficient for a meal for four people and the steamer basket is a generous size proportionate with the diameter of the cooker. When you release the pressure, two forceful streams of steam exit the lid, as it is designed to do, and it is noisy for a good 30 seconds, but weakens gradually in a minute or more. One not terribly obvious but important feature is the pressure dot in the black handle, which pops up on full pressure as red, and sinks when pressure is released back to black. As for cooking quality, I was very pleased with the end result of the food I cooked, which included meat (beef) in the bottom of the pot, and potatoes and carrots in the basket.

I own a Kuhn Rikon Duromatic pressure cooker that I have had for 11 years. It is about a quart larger, deeper, and less wide than the T-Fal, and it is also more than twice the retail cost of the T-Fal, largely due to the heavy stainless steel design. I like the lighter weight of the T-Fal, and I think that anyone with strength or grip issues will like it better as well. The Kuhn Rikon is easy to clean and maintain, and the T-Fal is a little more work what with the need to clean out the inside valve from time to time, which must be done to ensure safety and steam release. However, the important factor is the quality of the cooking, and I see no difference thus far in the much more expensive Kuhn Rikon over this T-Fal.

For those who are still skeptical, I have never had a negative incident with a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are wonderful for saving time. A recipe that requires simmering beef for three hours can be reduced to 45 to 50 minutes in a pressure cooker. Risotto cooks beautifully inside a pressure cooker, eliminating the need (and time) to stand over a hot stove stirring rice (think summer). Chicken will cook in half the time required and come out tender. A busy, time-constrained professional needs a break in the kitchen from time-to-time and this pressure cooker provides that break. You can put the meal in it and walk away to do other things. For the price Amazon is asking for this pressure cooker, you won’t be sorry you made the purchase. It’s worth your time.


Philips Norelco CC5059/60 Kids Hair Clipper
Philips Norelco CC5059/60 Kids Hair Clipper
Price: $34.99
5 used & new from $34.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, could be a bit better, February 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This Norelco kids trimmer is light and less noisy than the traditional trimmer. I applaud Norelco for thinking up such a product but why target just kids?

The key differentiator between a regular trimmer and this model seems to be weight, sound level, and attachments.

It succeeds in the first two but somewhat fails in the last. The attachment comb could have been better designed. It’s bulky and a bit cumbersome to remove and attach. It’s almost as if they were designing a kids product and not a tool to be used by adults on kids. There’s a big difference.

The length comb should have also been designed to be small and nimble. Instead, it’s a big, plastic slide that’s not so easy to adjust and a real pain to clean. I understand that Norelco wanted to make it easy to dial up and down the length of the comb but the way it’s designed needs work.

As far as the sound level is concerned, it’s about half the noise of traditional plug in trimmers. It still puts out quite a bit of noise so don’t think they created a miracle. It’s far from “ultra” quiet.

Lastly, the unit looks nice but we won’t know how long it will last. It’s not watertight and the battery seems small for such a unit. It’s almost as if they repurposed one of their shavers for hair use.


Jabra SOLEMATE MAX Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speakers - Retail Packaging - Grey
Jabra SOLEMATE MAX Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Speakers - Retail Packaging - Grey
Price: $353.37
3 used & new from $312.32

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, if not expensive for what you get, January 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Solemate Max is a heavy and solid piece of gear. Jabra thought of just about everything when designing a Bluetooth speaker. It has everything anyone has ever asked for: portability, weather-proof durability, decent sound, wire/wireless operation including NFC, speakerphone. The question is whether they managed to do it all well?

First, the sound quality is decent. The lows are not that earth shattering. It’s what you would expect from < 3” drivers. There’s only so much you can do as simple physics takes over. Mids and highs are clear, not tinny like some of the cheaper speakers. Overall, the sound is a 3.5 out of 5.

The paring is easy and rock solid. I haven’t experienced any dropped connection unlike a Belkin Bluetooth wireless stereo connector that I own. The Solemate will sleep requiring you to reconnect the next time your device is near it. Once your device has paired with the Solemate, your device will retain the selection on your device so you’ll only need to select the Solemate on your device the next time you want to connect. You may have to first toggle the Solemate on as it goes to sleep after it’s disconnected for a period of time.

The speakerphone is a nice feature but not entirely effective. The sounds from the speaker is fine but the receiver on the other end will have a hard time hearing the caller as the noise filtering microphone is not loud enough. You’ll have to shout or get really close to the Solemate if you want to be heard. To use the speakphone is easy, once you’re connected just dial your number on your phone and you’ll be able to select the Solemate as your choice.

You can also recharge your other devices using the built in USB connection. The battery itself doesn’t seem that large in capacity. There are no specs regarding the mAh of the battery so there’s no way to tell how much juice you have to recharge another device.

The design of the integrated cable for connecting any device by wire is ingenious. You’ll always have the cable with you as it’s tucked neatly on the bottom of the speaker. You can see it in the photo. It’s the yellow cord that’s wrapped inside the bottom cover. It has male 3.5 mm jacks on both ends.

I don’t have a NFC enabled devise so I can’t really test that function. In addition I didn’t download their app to utilize the Dolby Surround function.

Overall, it’s a decent unit that reminds me of the boom-boxes from the 80’s. It can get decent volume but don’t expect tremendous range in the low end. I think it’s a bit expensive for what it does.


Baxter of California Best Badger Shave Brush
Baxter of California Best Badger Shave Brush
Price: $50.00
2 used & new from $50.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than their travel brush, January 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Badger brushes comes with different badge hair grades.

The lowest grade is Pure Badger. It's the most common hair found on the belly of the badger which covers around 60% of a badger's body. The hair is courser than the other grades and usually has a darker hue. It's also the cheapest of the grades by a long shot.

The second grade is Best Badger. It's a finer more pliable hair from about 20-25% of the badger's body. It's longer in length and lighter in color than the Pure Badger.

Then there's the Super Badger. It's more expensive than the previous two grades but it's often highly bleached on the ends Pure Badger hair to make it resemble the highest quality, the Silvertip Badger.

The best grade is the Silvertip Badger. It's also the most expensive and rare coming from the neck of the animal. The ends are naturally white. Brushes made from Silvertip are usually hundreds of dollars. The hair is softer and fluffier which helps it hold more moisture to lather soap on the face.

This brush is a better grade than their lowest grade travel brush, which I own. That brush is not a very pleasant experience.

This best badger brush is softer and better than the travel brush due to the fact that it's a step up from the lowest grade. It certainly can't compare to my Silvertip brush but that costs multiples of this brush.

It comes in a heavy metal handle with black plastic around it. It stands about 4 ¼" tall and the head is about 2" in diameter. The handle will also fit the standard brush holder stands made for these brushes.

Although this Amazon listing states that the brush is made in Germany, I can't verify that as I don't see that anywhere on the brush or packaging. I would say that it's fairly priced for a brush of this quality.


Canon PIXMA Printing Solutions MG7120 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One Printer, Cloud Enabled, White
Canon PIXMA Printing Solutions MG7120 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-One Printer, Cloud Enabled, White
Price: Click here to see our price
38 used & new from $99.99

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than my old MP960!, October 21, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My last printer was a Canon PIXMA MP960. Needless to say, I've had it for a while. It has always delivered although I can't say that I print all that much. What I didn't like about that printer was its size and the way they designed the output tray. You would have to snap it back in place, which was a noisy exercise. The hulking beast of a body always seemed a bit cheap to me. Why the Canon engineers feel that they must design such a ugly piece of plastic box is beyond me. There's a lot of hollow space they should have eliminated to make a smaller printer.

I'm glad that after almost half a decade, they put more emphasis on the design; however, the new MG7120 is still a monstrosity. A more competent designer could easily eliminate another 30% out of printer. Yes, it's short but it's also quite large in circumference. There's no reason why they couldn't have designed one with the width and length closer to that of the scanner bed. Brother made one a all-in-one with those dimensions.

Setting up the printer on a Mac is easy. First, after going through the initial printer head alignment procedure as the instructed, make sure to connect your printer to your wireless network. Then run a firmware update/check to make sure you're using the latest firmware. You can do that by using the fairly responsive touch screen and selection settings and then device settings. After making sure you're using the latest firmware you can proceed to add it to your Mac. Just go to your Mac's System Preferences => Print & Scan, then click on the little + sign to add the printer. The printer should immediately show up as a selection when you click and hold that + sign. If it's not there, it means that you're missing the drivers and I would go to Canon's web site and just download the drivers, both printer and scanner, but not the entire software package. After you add the drivers, repeat the above steps and you should see it when you click on the +. You should be all set to use the printer after that.

The printer itself is solidly built, more so than the MP960 for sure. What's great is that is uses what seems to be a faster processor so that the touch screen works quickly unlike other touch screens on printers I've seen. The disappearing touch buttons on the front panel is a nice touch as it eliminates clutter. After connecting the printer's Wi-Fi to your network, you can use built-in apps like Evernote, Flicker, Facebook and Drop Box to print your cloud photos/documents. Airprint works as well without additional software or configuration.

Another nice touch is that you can connect wirelessly using your browser to see and use all of the settings of the printer by going to System Preferences => Print & Scan => Options & Supplies => Supply Levels => More Info. You can even update your firmware through this browser interface. ( this is obviously the way to access it on a Mac but there's probably similar access on a PC )

As usual, the starter ink cartridges are a bit lame as you won't be able to use it for very long before having to spend a lot of money on real cartridges. They even gave you only 3 sheets of photo paper to test the printer. Needless to say the starter color inks will last about 10 - 15 photos before running out.

Printing is fast although you can usually hear the printer going through cleanings when you power on. It's not loud but it is annoying and lasts about 30 seconds. The photos printed on this inkjet are very high quality. It's certainly much better than the MP960 from years ago. I would say that it approaches that of the ones you get from commercial printing places. Although when printing from a Mac, the prints are dark, almost like they're underexposed. I wish that it would just print what you see on the screen but it doesn't. I will have to see if there's a way to adjust it or wait until Canon or Apple updates the drivers to better handle the brightness.

The paper trays are low capacity types since the printer is not that tall. The larger paper tray on the bottom fits about 100 sheets. The one above that is for the photo paper. You can put about 20 sheets there. That particular tray can also be flipped to print CD/DVDs.


Belkin SongStream Bluetooth HD Music Receiver
Belkin SongStream Bluetooth HD Music Receiver
Price: $51.74
10 used & new from $35.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Could be better, September 6, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The idea of being able to stream from mobile to your home stereo is not new. Many including Apple have tried making devices that allow for wireless streaming.

This Belkin HD Music receiver seemed to be a good device for doing just that so I decided to give it a try.

Well, the results are only acceptable and not spectacular. First of all, the there's a tendency for the receiver to drop your connection if you're more than 15 feet away from it. That means if you're across the living room you can expect the connection to drop at least once every hour. This is increased if you move the device around.

The second thing that stinks is that once the connection between the device and your mobile is broken, the only way it seems that you're able to reestablish the connection is if you unplug and re-plug the power to the Belkin or shut down your Bluetooth on your mobile and re-enable. For some reason it won't automatically reconnect.

I don't know if this is endemic but on my unit the 3.5mm jack is a bit touchy. I had to plug and unplug the thing numerous times before the sound would come through on both channels. I had to really push it in to get it to work.

The sound quality is decent but not great. It's as bad as some of the other reviewers complained. The mid range does sound a bit hollow so voices can be a bit thinned out. The overall dynamic range was good. The problem with reviewing the sound quality is not really fair to Belkin because there can be many factors causing poor sound. It could be your stereo or the cable connecting the Belkin to the stereo. It can even be as simple as a bad jack. So, I would reserve my judgment until those factors can be eliminated from the test. But for the most part, using the equipment and cables as supplied, suppressed midrange which can make vocals seem tinny.


SanDisk Extreme Plus 32GB SDHC UHS-1 Flash Memory Card Speed Up To 80MB/s- SDSDXS-032G-X46
SanDisk Extreme Plus 32GB SDHC UHS-1 Flash Memory Card Speed Up To 80MB/s- SDSDXS-032G-X46
Price: $34.99
25 used & new from $29.99

119 of 137 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not all Class 10 cards are created equal!, August 22, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are so many class 10 SD cards in the market for people to choose from but these strike a good balance between speed and price. The fastest SanDisk SD cards are the Extreme Pro line of cards. Those are very expensive. They cost about 50% more and yet have similar speeds, 95MS/s vs. 80MB/s read speeds to these.

This card is made in China.

I've tested this card against some of the others I've owned over the year and it has by far the fastest Read speeds out of the bunch. What's surprising is the fact that the slower rated 45MB/s Extreme card has a slightly faster Write speed.

For example, here are the approximate transfer times of a 400MB file using my Macbook Pro built in SD card reader.

Sandisk Extreme 80MB/s Class 10 Card:
Write 26.5 Seconds
Read 19.8 Seconds

Sandisk Extreme 45MB/s Class 10 Card (Current generation):
Write 24.5 Seconds
Read 22.3 Seconds

This Sony 40MB/s Class 10 Card (Current generation):
Write 44 Seconds
Read 24.2 Seconds

Sandisk Extreme III Class 6 Card (Not bad for a 4 year old card!):
Write 31.8 Seconds
Read 23.3 Seconds

As you can see, the current Sony 40MB/s card is a real disaster. It's slower than a 4 year old Class 6 card!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 28, 2013 5:42 AM PST


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