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Customer Reviews: 265
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Helpful Votes: 5643


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Matthew T. Weflen "Matthew Weflen" RSS Feed (Chicago, IL)
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CamelBak Eddy Vacuum Insulated Stainless Water Bottle, 0.6 L, Rain
CamelBak Eddy Vacuum Insulated Stainless Water Bottle, 0.6 L, Rain
Price: $28.99
2 used & new from $28.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great bottle, but is it hand wash or isn't it?, May 4, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So this is a really nice bottle. The vacuum insulation seems to work well, keeping beverages cold. My wife likes this to take milk for her cereal to work in the morning. The top works just like any other CamelBak bottle. I wish the capacity were a bit greater. But my real caveat is this - is it dishwasher safe, or isn't it? The page here at Amazon says all parts are dishwasher safe, but the printed matter that ships with the bottle says to hand wash the bottle portion. Until they get their story straight one way or the other, I'm sticking with 4 stars, which is what I'd give something that requires hand washing.


DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Oversized Basic Everyday 20x20" Napkin Set of 6, Sherbert Plaid
DII 100% Cotton, Machine Washable, Oversized Basic Everyday 20x20" Napkin Set of 6, Sherbert Plaid
Price: $16.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Attractive, absorbent, wrinkly, May 2, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These napkins are definitely oversized - they are rectangular instead of square, and give an extra six inches or so on one side than a typical square cloth napkin. The pattern is bright and attractive (if you're into that sort of thing). My one reservation is with how wrinkly these get. Personally, I'm not one to iron napkins. I just want to fold them and be done with it. These napkins definitely would need an iron if you were presenting them to august company (in a retro 50's theme?). They are as absorbent as one would expect from a cotton napkin, so performance "qua napkin" is fine.


Triangle Bulbs T95051-6-VA, LED 40 Watt Equivalent Dimmable G16.5 Light Bulb, Candelabra Base, Warm White, 6 Pack
Triangle Bulbs T95051-6-VA, LED 40 Watt Equivalent Dimmable G16.5 Light Bulb, Candelabra Base, Warm White, 6 Pack
Price: $37.49
2 used & new from $32.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Average E12 LED in a globe shape... I guess we needed this?, May 2, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So these are E12 candelabra bulbs, BUT they are in a globe shape instead of the typical "bullet" or "flame" shapes. This should dictate whether you choose them or not. They can look good in a vanity installation, or in a relatively roomy fixture, but they are not for tight spots that require a narrower bulb (I tried them in a Tiffany style lamp, and they would not fit).

As far as the stats, the package claims 4.7 Watts of usage, and I measured 4.5 with my Kill-A-Watt meter. I came in a little bit higher than the claimed 315 lumens, but I was measuring with a smartphone light meter, so I'll call that accurate, too. That works out to 70 lumens per Watt, which is a tad on the low side in the current marketplace (80-90 is where most good LED lamps are today). The base does get pretty warm after extended use, so I would definitely recommend following the instructions on use in open luminaires only.

All in all, I'd call these pretty average E12 LED lights. They are dimmable, give you average brightness for the Watts, show pretty good light dispersal, and have average heat performance.


Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Lunch Bag, Raccoon
Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Lunch Bag, Raccoon
Price: $15.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Cute aesthetics, nice function, April 26, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Our children really enjoyed these lunch bags. The aesthetics are cute and friendly. We received two bags, one with a raccoon theme (with an apple zipper, as if the raccoon has just absconded with it from a picnic) and one with a chameleon theme (the zipper is shaped like a fly being caught on the tongue of the lizard). The material of the bag offers a bit of insulation, and will keep a food item moderately cool for a few hours. The interior is spacious enough for a sandwich, and apple, a baggie full of crackers, or a sippy cup (in place of the apple). There is a mesh pocket on one side that is ideal for utensils or condiments. The top strap adjusts and can snap into other bags of this brand. I do think they're a bit pricey for what you get, but not egregiously so.


DII Kitchen Millennium, 4-Piece, Heat Resistant, Seamless, Non Stick, Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Silicone Spatula Set, Includes Long Spatula, Classic Spatula, Spoonula, Round Spatula- Purple
DII Kitchen Millennium, 4-Piece, Heat Resistant, Seamless, Non Stick, Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Silicone Spatula Set, Includes Long Spatula, Classic Spatula, Spoonula, Round Spatula- Purple
Price: $17.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, economical silicone spatulas... but no slotted flipper?, April 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you need spatulas to work with non-stick cookware, these type are the way to go. They are heat resistant on the stove-top, dishwasher safe (the packaging indicates top rack only), and they come clean quite well. They have steel wire inside to shape the utensil, and food grade silicone on the outside.

The only thing I'd knock this set for is including the cake froster. I think a much more useful spatula would be a slotted flat one for flipping burgers, fish, and the like. But all in all, these are a fine value for the dollar. You should get at least a few years of use out of them.


Timberland Men's Odelay 4-Eye Camp Moc Oxford, Bough Brando, 10 M US
Timberland Men's Odelay 4-Eye Camp Moc Oxford, Bough Brando, 10 M US
Price: $66.91
15 used & new from $65.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Narrow toe box led to serious pinky toe pain, April 15, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You know that old saying about walking a mile in another man's shoes? Don't. I wore these shoes today for a lunch meeting. I walked about a mile to said meeting at a brisk pace. By the time I got there, my left pinky toe was abraded and hurt like the dickens. Upon inspection, there is no obvious seam or protrusion inside the shoe, so I can only assume the issue is a combination of tough leather and narrow design on the "toe box" (as they say in the industry). I wear a 10 Medium in every other brand, and haven't experienced this issue. It's possible that this brand just runs narrow, so if you're set on the style, go for Wide.

Personally, for my money, I'd rather get shoes that are appropriate for work or a night out that are much better designed for walking moderate distances. My personal favorite is Rockport. I've never hurt my toes on their shoes, even on the first day.


ViewSonic PRO7827HD LightStream Full HD 1080p Home Entertainment Projector with Vertical Lens Shift (Black)
ViewSonic PRO7827HD LightStream Full HD 1080p Home Entertainment Projector with Vertical Lens Shift (Black)
Offered by PCNation
Price: $799.99
17 used & new from $799.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb cinematic performance with just a few caveats, April 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have now tried three projectors on my 106" screen in a darkened room. This one by ViewSonic, the LG PF1500 LED model, and the Epson 1040 Home Cinema LCD model. The ViewSonic delivered the best video performance of the three. Let me tell you why.

***Performance***

Black levels are truly excellent on this projector. Letterbox bars, space scenes, and the like, show a deep, convincing black. This lends itself to a very punchy image, rivaling a good, modern LCD television, but of course at 4 times the size. Detail is also superb, with things like film grain, dust motes, and facial wrinkles and hairs easily evident when watching a high quality Blu-Ray. Colors are a bit aggressive, but are still realistic and pleasing. Very dark scenes do still show some of the mosquito noise that seems common with DLP projectors - but this is not evident at normal viewing distances.

***Build Quality and Features***

The projector is about 13"x10"x4", WxLxH. It weighs about 6 or 7 pounds. This makes it pretty average for an entry-level DLP projector. It features large fans on the side and front of the unit, pulling air in from the side and pushing it out through the front corner. In Eco mode, the fans are reasonably quiet but not "silent," when this projector is placed a few feet away from the viewer (e.g. mounted above a couch), the fans are evident during quiet scenes in a movie. In the regular lamp mode, this projector can definitely compete with room lighting - but you would be foregoing its greatest performance strengths (the aforementioned punchy contrast) by doing so. There is no lens cap, which is a disappointment at this price point. There is, however, a 1.3:1 zoom ratio, which gives great flexibility in placement distance from the screen, typically between 2 and 3 feet of range, depending on screen size. This is a real boon for smaller theater rooms (like mine). There is no external power brick, just a regular 3-prong cord, further simplifying mounted installations.

Unique to ViewSonic's line are a few standout features. Hidden behind a panel on the side is an HDMI port for streaming sticks like Amazon Fire and Chromecast - with a built-in Micro-USB cable for power. There is also a lens shift dial that allows for a 20% adjustment of the image up or down. It also has a 6 segment color wheel, and I must say I basically never experienced rainbow effect during any programming. Even on test patterns, I experienced a slight fidgety look but never a full on rainbow. Typically I am sensitive to DLP rainbows, so this was a very pleasant surprise.There is a built in speaker that is about on a par with a good clock radio. Adequate in a pinch, but nowhere near the quality of even a cheap stereo soundbar.

The remote is tiny and rather lackluster, though it does have a laser pointer built in. The menu system is irritating, requiring constant exits and re-entries, because of the lack of a consistent "back" feature.

One problem I ran into, which is pretty serious in my book, had to do with displaying a 1080p signal from my Blu-Ray player, the Sony BDP-S3500. This is an extremely common disc player, and was Amazon's best seller for 2015. This seems to be a result of sensitivity to HDMI bandwidth - my LG PF1500 could easily accept a 1080p signal using the same cable over the same distance. I ordered a new Monoprice "active" cable to see if there was a difference, and indeed there was. But the previous cable was no cheapie, and the run wasn't terribly long. So I have to conclude that the PRO7827HD is just more sensitive to this that some other projectors.

Unfortunately, this is a UHP lamp-based projector. The lamp is rated for 6,500 hours in Eco mode, less in regular. This is probably optimistic, of course, since UHP lamps degrade on a pretty linear curve from first use to half brightness. But it should provide about 4 years of good viewing. ViewSonic lamps appear to be in the $200-$300 range, which is a significant recurring expense to consider, even if it's every 4 years.

There was no manual included in the box. Just a quick start guide, a CD-ROM, and a QR code to scan with one's phone. I would have preferred a paper manual, since many people no longer have a computer with a disc drive, and reading on one's phone is less than ideal. There is a downloadable manual now on ViewSonic's website, and it is relatively comprehensive, though it doesn't really explain the difference between the lamp modes on this projector.

***Conclusion***

I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ben-Hur (both on Blu-Ray disc) and House of Cards (streaming) during my testing of this projector. I was completely engrossed by each, drawn into the experience of the movie or show each time. The PRO7827HD really delivered a cinematic experience with stout black levels, vibrant color, and loads of detail. I would not hesitate to recommend this to someone in the market for a darkened-room home theater projector. The bug I experienced with 1080p from my disc player, the restrictive menu, and the high cost of lamp replacement are really the only caveats I have to offer. As such, I'm going with 4 stars rather than 5. But this is a whale of a machine. I am seriously considering swapping it in for my LG-PF1500.

***Calibration***

This was a rather odd beast to run through a DIY Disney WOW! calibration. In part this was because the settings were pretty accurate to start with. But this also was the case because many key settings were grayed out, even on different pre-set modes. For instance, the Color setting was grayed, so I could not adjust the chroma levels using the WOW! blue filter. The manual states that color and sharpness adjustments are unavailable when the signal is not YCbCr. Well, my player has three options that put out YCbCr, and none of them result in these options being unlocked for me. I have never dealt with a device that locks so much from the user, and find it troublesome. That said, the REC-709 preset mode did a pretty good job of rendering colors accurately, albeit a bit on the hot side. Over the last week, I've carefully adjusted things with the limited menus as far as I can towards "standard." This PJ seems to be rather sensitive to minute contrast and brightness adjustments, resulting in odd pixellation and banding if you're just slightly off. Here are the settings I arrived at:

Color Mode: Movie Rec. 709
Brightness: 50
Contrast: 0
Color Temp: Warm
Overscan: Off

Advanced
Gamma: 2
Brilliant Color: 2

Color Management
R: Hue -10, Saturation 95, Gain 100
G: Hue 20, Sat. 100, Gain 100
B: Hue 24, Sat. 95, Gain 96
C: Hue 35, Sat. 100, Gain 100
M: Hue 0, Sat. 100, Gain 100
Y: Hue -40, Sat. 100, Gain 100
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 2, 2016 8:37 AM PDT


Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Pink Blossom, 0.15 Ounce, 2 Count
Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm, Pink Blossom, 0.15 Ounce, 2 Count
Price: $9.98
2 used & new from $9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice to wear, but the color is extremely subtle, March 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife is a regular user of Burt's Bees products. She wore this lip balm and had the following to report:

It is drier than regular lip balm, but more moist than lipstick. There is no fragrance, but a slight lipstick smell that lip balm doesn't normally have. There is no taste, unlike regular Burt's Bees which has a beeswax odor/flavor.

Overall, she liked the product, as it is inexpensive compared to lipstick (but slightly more expensive than chapstick), and she likes it better than lipstick. On the downside, the very subtle pink coloring doesn't last very long. She likes the red variety better i terms of getting the benefits of both lipstick and lip balm.


Vermont Smoke & Cure Turkey Sticks, Antibiotic Free, Gluten Free, Ancho Pepper, 1oz Stick, 24 Count
Vermont Smoke & Cure Turkey Sticks, Antibiotic Free, Gluten Free, Ancho Pepper, 1oz Stick, 24 Count
Price: $29.99
4 used & new from $29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pricey but tasty and filling, March 6, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So, I really liked these as a snack. They are nowhere near as greasy as a Slim Jim, and are much lower in fat. The thought that the Turkey is antibiotic-free and humanely raised is pleasing. The stick is a bit moist in the package, probably due to the celery juice used in curing and preserving the meat. This is a better alternative than nitrates for curing. The spice level is very mild. Honestly, if the package hadn't said Ancho Pepper, I'd never have known these were supposed to be "southwest" flavored. The meat is not too salty, rating 10% of RDA per stick. There is no gristle, and the artificial (but still animal derived) casing has a nice snap.

Beyond the really mild spice level, my only concern is really price. For a buck and a half per stick, this is not a slam dunk value. But it's a good, filling, high protein snack (10g per stick), so I'm not going to say it's an outright bad deal.


Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack, Caribbean Blue, Medium/Large
Osprey Packs Farpoint 40 Travel Backpack, Caribbean Blue, Medium/Large
Offered by Pike To Peak
Price: $159.95
8 used & new from $135.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Versatile and comfortable, March 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This backpack can really do double duty for a traveler. It has handles that allow it to be used as a carry-on for an airplane flight, but it also is extremely comfortable as a backpack for long walks or hikes (not so much for school use, due to size). The waist straps make this a very well-supported backpack that can be worn for long periods. There are mesh pouches on the front that are ideal for water bottles and the like. There are oodles of zipper pouches that work well for things like phones or chargers or toiletries. The various straps also fold in and can be zipped away, which is ideal for stowing on an airplane or bus. I would estimate that the main pouch, when fully packed, could hold perhaps 5 days worth of clothing. The interior mesh pouch on the main chamber is a good size for laptops and/or tablet computers.

About the only knock I can think of for this bag is price - over a hundred beans for a backpack is pretty steep. But I would still recommend taking a good long look at this one if you need a bag that can pull double duty. I think this would be ideal for a college student or young professional who travels light.


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