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Reviews Written by
Cary L. Brown RSS Feed (Round Rock, TX)

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Signs
Signs
DVD

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent movie, in the "fairy tale" category..., June 8, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Signs (Amazon Video)
M. Night Shamalan (did I spell that right?) has a particular "niche" he writes for... the "twist-ending" film. His first major film, "The Sixth Sense," was magnificent, and I really loved "Unbreakable" as well. This is the other Shamalan film I really like. (Others, such as "The Happening" and "The Village" and "Lady in the Water" are quite a bit more underwhelming in my opinion, though they're not nearly as bad as some reviewers would lead you to believe!)

This film is really a classical fairy tale... a term that may make people come to the wrong conclusion if I don't explain. See, real "fairy tales" aren't what we often think of by that term today. We think of them as being set "in another time and place" because most of those we know are set in our past, in a situation which to use seems strange. But at the time that the stories came into being, they were cast in the actual work in which the listener to the tale was familiar. They also tended to be quite dark, and often rather frightening and violent, not remotely like the "Disney-fied" version we often think of today.

Basically, a "fairy tale" introduced a magical or supernatural element into the world that the audience was familiar with, and usually posed a a morality tale with great trial and danger, sometimes leading to a heroic victory (and maybe even a "happily ever after" though that's really part of the "Disney-fication" I mentioned earlier most of the time!) but at least as often, a tragic morality tale.

This story is a modern fairy tale. Yes, it's aliens instead of gnomes or succubi or fairies or witches or whatever... but they serve the same purpose in the story. The "heroes" aren't really glorious heroic figures, but are common people, going through a very personal trial... one which can either be overcome or which can prove out as a "tragic morality tale"

At the core of this story, and part of what some of the audience disliked about the flick, is the idea that "there are no coincidences." The lead character is a former minister who lost faith due to a personal tragedy. I know that some folks I know really liked that aspect of the character at first... and they were the ones who hated the movie the most once it was done... because this is, in the end, a POSITIVE morality tale, about how even the most inconsequential-seeming (or even annoying) things in your life can, in the end, prove to be there for a reason.

This movie has a hopeful ending, and is very much "pro-faith." If that appeals to you, you'll enjoy the movie. If you're one of those people who find the concept of "faith" to be something you associate (wrongly, I'd argue) with stupidity, you'll almost certainly hate everything about this film.

Finally... this isn't an action movie, or a horror movie. Yes, there's a global invasion going on, but every bit of this movie is small, and personal. It's about what goes on INSIDE of a person, not what's going on outside. It's a deeply emotional film, but if you expect an action-adventure film, you'll be very disappointed.

I recommend this film, and have shared it with a number of friends and family members who never saw it... for various reasons. Virtually all appreciated it, except for a couple of folks I know who have a passionate hatred of the concept of faith (and who falsely associate that with being "anti-intellectual" or "anti-science" or whatever other nonsense they use to prop up their own faith-based belief that there "is no God.")


Will Rock - PC
Will Rock - PC
6 used & new from $4.00

1.0 out of 5 stars A fun, "average" shooter... except that it seldom works., June 8, 2012
This review is from: Will Rock - PC (Video Game)
"Will Rock" came out at roughly the same time as "Serious Sam" originally did, and fell into that same general category... a "brainless shooter" where hoards of enemies swarm you and you have to wipe out massive numbers of enemies. It's not a "special" game, but it's quite a bit of fun to play. The storyline, such as it is, is that you're the "avatar" of an Olympian "god," channeling that god's powers to battle against a variety of enemies who are trying to defeat that god. You become the "avatar" during the opening of the game, and while you're in control, you get special powers and abilities which come directly from Mt. Olympus.

The enemies and scenarios are appropriate for that period of time. Unlike "Serious Sam," the game's lead character is reasonably serious, but the enemies do tend to be more than slightly humorous in how they operate (the roman soldier skeletons move in an amusing "high-step" for example).

All in all, it's a fun game. Forgettable, but fun and worth playing.

The problem is... about half of the time, even at the date of release, and probably moreso today, the game simply will not run. It's well-known that this program used the "Safedisk" so-called "copy protection" scheme (which, of course, never prevented a single "pirate" from ever making an illegal copy, but DID prevent many, many legitimate users from being able to run the program). Safedisk uses a "blacklist" as one of its elements, and if you have any example of "blacklisted" hardware or software on your machine, the program simply won't run at all.

What might be "blacklisted?" Oh, any optical drive capable of burning disks, just for one example. Or the program "process explorer" which allows you to see what's running on your machine at any time (and acquired by Microsoft and provided for free download on their tech website). Or... well, the list just goes on and on and on.

I have multiple machines, and I've only ever owned one machine on which this program would even run. None of my contemporary ones will run the program.

It's a shame, because the program itself is a lot of fun. The DEVELOPERS did a fine job. But they made the mistake of going through the publishing house "Ubisoft," a French company which is widely reknowned for using the most draconian and intrusive "copy protection" schemes out there.

You'll notice I put "copy protection" in quotes. This is because these schemes have never... not ONCE... actually prevented a "pirate" from stealing the application or installing it for free. However, they HAVE repeatedly prevented legitimate, paying customers from being able to use software paid for... WHICH IS CRIMINAL ON THE PART OF UBISOFT, since they have never once offered to refund the purchase price of any item which was disabled by their so-called "copy protection."

I'd sure like to be able to run this. The reason I'm writing this review is that I recently did a minor upgrade to my machine, and did a clean OS reinstall as a result. I'm running XP Pro SP3 (32-bit). The only way I can get this program to run is to remove my twin BD-burners and replace them with ancient non-writable CD-drives, as well as to remove many, many applications (Nero, for example) which I regularly use.

This is not unique for Ubisoft. They used an even worse "copy protection" scheme for the later "Assassin's Creed" games which prevented legitimate purchasers from using their legally-bought-and-paid-for software, and Ubisoft has steadfastly refused to make good on their LEGAL OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE WORKING PRODUCT OR TO IMMEDIATELY PROVIDE A REFUND IN FULL.

Ubisoft is, simply stated, CRIMINAL. They are scum, they are filth, they don't deserve to remain in business, and frankly, their senior leadership ought to be prosecuted. And I'm not saying that out of emotion... it's actually a reasoned, calmly stated opinion.

In the case of "Will Rock," they disabled a perfectly good, low-end but "fun" game. The game is good... and worth playing. But I STRONGLY recommend you avoid buying it, for the reasons stated above... and I strongly recommend you avoid buying ANYTHING from Ubisoft for that same reason.

In general... "Ubisoft" means "will prove to be a hassle to run and will, sooner or later, become impossible to run, even if you manage to get it working at first."

Every item I currently have which has a "Ubisoft" label on the software, today, I have to run using a "cracked" version. I'm no pirate. But I've had no choice, because EVERY Ubisoft item I own causes such severe problems that the only way to reliably run them is to strip out the publishers "added on" so-called "copy protection" and run the game as the original developer provided it to them.

Remember... the developers write the software. The publishers package it and distribute it. Ubisoft is not a developer, they are a publisher. They took "Will Rock" (a program and associated media content), encrypted the EXE with a copy-protection system (not provided by the developers), put it onto a disk, put that into a box, and shipped it to stores.

Thus, Ubisoft has hurt BOTH the end-users (ie, you and me) and the people who did the actual work (the developers).

I would recommend this game if it could be run. But the odds of you getting it to run are slim to none if you have a modern machine, unless you're willing to do a LOT of work to strip out every fragment of "copy protection" in the game (and there are several tiers of that, mind you!)

In short... if you buy this, think of it like a "quick-play lottery ticket." The odds are, you won't get a prize, but if you're fortunate, you may win something fairly inconsequential but still enjoyable enough.


Left Behind: World at War
Left Behind: World at War
DVD
Price: $9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining movie, parallel to but not entirely consistent with the book series., April 21, 2012
I find reading the reviews for Christian materials (notably on Amazon, but elsewhere as well) to be exercises in frustration at times. There are those who post "reviews" who never saw the flick or read the book or whatever, and are purely posting what is, by definition, "hate speech" directed against Christians. Then there are the folks who actually did watch/read/etc the item and who didn't care for it on some legitimate basis (few and far between, but the only critical ones really worth reading, in my judgment). Then there are the "fanboy" reviews which go unreasonably over-the-top in praising something which may be good but may still have some flaws... but you'd never guess it from those reviews. And then there are the "flowers and rosiness" reviews from people who hate to have to THINK about matters of faith, and only want "happy-happy-fun-time" religion, and who are often negative towards materials which involve actual intellectual challenging of their staid, settled, comfortable "belief traditions."

In my case, I'm a believing, practicing Christian who recognizes that all materials, including Christian materials, are subject to flaws and defects and HONEST, FAIR critiques are entirely appropriate, but childish taunting or mindless "fluffy thinking" are not. I find all of the above equally annoying, as a result.

About this movie... it's a pretty decently done flick. The special effects aren't anywhere near the level of a Hollywood blockbuster, but it's clear that this is where they were trying to go with this film.

The film takes a small section of time, spanning the end of the one book and the first section of the next book, and "fills in the blanks" in ways which are entirely consistent with the books.. with one minor exception and one major one, both revolving around the deaths of characters. One minor character died (of suicide) in the first book but didn't die in the movies, so that character dies early in this movie. The second character I'm discussing (attempting to be spoiler-free) dies of a disease in both cases, but in one case this character dies in a hospital, and no one knows exactly how he died, though poisoning is suspected, while in the flick this character dies of a similar situation which becomes much more widespread and is a major plot point in the film.

Excepting those two deviations, the rest of the film is entirely consistent with the books, and "could have happened" in the book universe as well as in the movie universe.

Of course, the movies and the books are not consistent in many other areas... which is just fine. This movie is actually a bit more "conformant" to the books than the prior too, as far as I'm concerned... as, at the end of this film, both universes have essentially converged into one common scenario.

This movie stands quite well on its own. It's a bit more "action/adventure" than the prior two, but this is entirely consistent with the novels, which do have quite a bit of that sort of thing in them. It would be hard NOT to put that sort of thing into stories intended to be consistent with Christian eschatology ("end times beliefs"). While I personally believe that the authors of the book series got a number of things significantly wrong, they never claimed to be writing historical documents... they were writing NOVELS, after all. I doubt very much that there will be some blonde, blue-eyed European "Nicolae" nor will the Antichristian world region be what they promoted in such an almost "funny" way. I think that the real Antichrist, and the real Antichristian faith, will be something many of us are already familiar with (hint - watch for the restoration of the Caliphate once Assad's Syria falls).

SO... for anyone who thinks that they're watching "what's really going to happen," as if this were prophecy... put that out of your mind right now. This is FICTION, but fiction with a message, and fiction that is intended to provide some basic instruction to believers (and potential believers) about how to deal with whatever really DOES happen, even if it's not quite what's seen in the books or in the films.

Resistance, both on an internal (including but not limited to spiritual) basis, and on a physical basis (which may, if things get bad enough, require the sort of paramilitary activities seen in this film... and if you believe in Christian eschatology, you have to know that at some point things will get that bad, and will continue to get steadily worse) is entirely acceptable. Giving in to evil, "going along to get along" and the like... that's what this movie is intended to strengthen your resolve against. The character of President Fitzhue (Louis Gossett Jr, in an EXCELLENT performance, frankly) is the one who starts off "going along to get along" and who learned, apparently too late, what this really means... but who learns the truth, and takes a strong stand, at the end.

Yes, the ending of the film doesn't result in the "good guys beating the bad guys" entirely... it's a minor victory in a war which is destined, at least for the moment, for the "bad guys" to win... but we know that the "bad guy's victory" is going to be very short-lived.

Many of us believe that this is all coming to a real head shortly... that a global government is being established now, that freedom (including freedom to practice our faith as we choose to, or choose not to, without governmental interference, but also including many, many other elements not directly related to faith or to religion - which are, by the way, not the same thing!) is being taken away, and that for the first time in human history, every element of prophecy is coming together. There's no longer any need to "stretch" or to "read in"... you can take things very literally and see all the signs right now.

These movies, and the books upon which they are loosely based, are to be taken, at most, as allegorical... as "fables" intended to teach certain lessons. The lessons are directly applicable to what many of us will likely have to live through for real in the not too distant future. But it would be a mistake to treat them, and this movie in particular (since we're reviewing this movie in particular) as anything beyond that.

It's a thriller/drama with allegorical, rather than prophetic, overtones. Watched on that level, it's a good, decent quality movie, rating a good solid "4 out of five" stars.


ARRIS SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem  (Black,Retail Packaging)
ARRIS SURFboard SB6121 DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem (Black,Retail Packaging)
370 used & new from $26.25

956 of 1,001 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Modem's Fault, but BE WARNED..., March 17, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
... It seems that various ISPs are breaking FCC regulations and Federal Law by refusing to activate some newer modems, in an attempt to force users to use a "leased" modem.

There is an essentially IDENTICAL version of this device, the SB6141, which is the "ISP leased" version of this. You can't buy that, at least not "officially," mind you.

(EDIT - since I originally wrote this, it does seem that it's become possible to buy the "cable operator only" SB6141 directly...)

Time Warner Cable has just had me on the "loop" for the past two and a half hours, and I'm still on hold as I write this. They're telling me that the device isn't on the "approved list" and thus cannot be activated on their system. This, of course, is PATENT NONSENSE. All they require in order to access any device is (a) a device which speaks the same electronic "language" (in this case, DOCSIS 3.0, which TWC Austin supports fully, and brags about supporting fully), and (b) a valid, unique HFC MAC ID code.

The MAC ID is what allows the two devices (the ISP's "source" modem and your modem) to talk to each other, as the ISP needs to know that the ID it's talking to is an ID which it's supposed to talk to, and they need to speak the same language. THAT IS ALL THAT IS REQUIRED ON ANY TECHNICAL BASIS WHATSOEVER.

It is a violation of Federal Law and FCC regulations for an ISP to refuse to service any device which has a valid, unique, and "not stolen" MAC ID and which uses an approved communications protocol.

Those of you who have been told "Comcast won't support this" or, as I just was, "Time Warner won't support this," please realize, YOU ARE BEING ROBBED, every bit as much as if they put a gun to your head and told you to hand over your wallet. It is a CRIME for them to do this.

I am currently on hold, with a "customer advocate" at Time Warner, attempting to get my personally-owned, legally-required-to-be-supported device added to my account.

******

Okay, after a long dialog where I quoted letter and verse of Federal law to the "advocate," I got them to add my modem to my account. And it's working flawlessly.

I would not ordinarily post things not SPECIFICALLY about the device on a review of the device, but in this case, I felt like it was necessary, as some folks may believe they've got a defective piece of hardware (based upon what the ISP tells them) when this is NOT the case.

My ping times have improved... which is somewhat surprising to me, honestly... from about 58ms to around 20ms. I'm not sure why that's the case, but it's a good indication that I have a better connection (lower ping times means less delay between when you send something at one end and when it's received at the other end, basically). My throughput is much more consistent and level, and I haven't seen any of the disconnection errors I've seen repeatedly with my older (DOCSIS 1.0) modem. It seems to be performing flawlessly.

If you have an internet service provider (ISP) who has support for DOCSIS 3.0 (the latest iteration of the modem-interaction-language standard), this is a great choice. Just be prepared to have to argue a bit with your ISP, who seem, in many cases, to be doing everything possible to get you to lease one from them instead of buying your own. Once they give in and agree to activate the MAC code on their system, this will work just fine on ANY current ISP, and will provide full DOCSIS 3.0 support on any DOCSIS 3.0-supporting network.

Don't let the script-reading "support" types tell you otherwise.
Comment Comments (51) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2016 5:00 PM PDT


Griffin Technology RadioShark AM / FM Desktop Radio with Time-Shift Recording (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Griffin Technology RadioShark AM / FM Desktop Radio with Time-Shift Recording (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Challenger Imports
Price: $52.00
10 used & new from $26.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory, but could be better, February 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is for the original "Radio Shark." I tried to find a "Radio Shark 2" but none were available anywhere I looked. I understand that the second-generation device had some fixes, but note that both use the same software and work essentially the same.

The device is slightly larger than I expected, but I'm not dissatisfied with it because of that. I guess I just envisioned a more "wafer-thin" sail, but it's actually about a half-inch thick and stands about eight inches tall.

Setting up in WinXP was trivial. Setting up in Win7 (on my laptop) was more of a challenge, but once done, it works just fine.

There's a HUGE area for improvement, however... and that is because it totally lacks "Windows Media Center" integration. Having three other devices which have integrated, Media-center-accessible FM tuners, I was hoping that this would provide accessibility to both the AM and FM tuners, but such is not the case. The provided software works quite nicely, if it's not particularly "glitzy."

The main issue, in Win7, was finding out why I wasn't getting any sound. This isn't a defect in the device, but rather an issue with how Win7 (and presumably Vista) handle audio devices. You basically need to set up the device, while connected, through the Windows 7 "Sound Settings" panel. There's no guidance in the instructions on how to do this, but you can (for the moment, at least) find this info easily enough using Google.

If you want AM radio on your computer, as far as I'm aware there are no other options out there right now. And this works quite nicely. I've been setting it up to record some of my favorite talk programs during the day, so I can listen to them in the evening. And those recordings can be listened to using whatever media player you want (including the ones provided with Windows, such as Media Center).

Reception is just fine... not "semi-pro" quality, but adequate. FM reception, if desired, can be augmented by attaching a supplementary external antenna (I've bought one sold for the Bose Wave Radio, which works just fine... but you can just as easily hook up a set of earbuds and improve the reception quite a bit!). I actually haven't needed the boost from the add-in antenna yet, but I've got it in case I ever need it.

Overall, I'm pleased. I just wish I could control it from WMC, like I can with the FM tuners on my Hauppauge devices.


Easy Rest Foldaway Padded Leg and Foot Rest
Easy Rest Foldaway Padded Leg and Foot Rest

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for what it is, but be sure you know what it is..., February 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A few years ago I had a knee injury and needed to keep my leg elevated at work. Now, the injury is long since healed, but I still like having a "leg rest" at my desk at work. That's what I bought this for.

First, realize, this is a very "lightweight" device. It is NOT designed for sitting on, nor for putting a lot of weight on. It's a simple, collapsible tube-steel structure with a padded "hammock" on top to support your lower legs.

For MY purposes, this is really ideal. I keep it under my desk at work, and when I'm hard at work I can put my legs up on it and work in greater comfort than I otherwise would. And it's easy to collapse and carry around with you. I brought it up to my office space along with my little zippered portfolio, and this is lighter than the portfolio is!

As for the thing "collapsing," well, the mechanism is quite simple, and if the user had difficulty locking the leg braces, or getting the leg rest "hammock frame's" support rod into the slot which it seats into, that's not really the fault of the device. If those parts were defective, that's a different issue, of course, but that's not what the other reviewer said, is it?

If you want a cheap, lightweight, portable device to allow you to put your legs up under your desk, this is a great solution. If you want the sort of thing you'd put in front of your easy chair at home, this isn't for you.

The construction is, not surprisingly, not all that "robust." The only real issue I have with the construction was that the plastic end-caps for the tubes kept falling out. I pulled them out, wrapped the portion which goes inside the tube with black electrical tape, and re-inserted them. They're in there quite snugly now.

Don't expect too much, and you'll be happy with what you get. I am.


Intex Ultra Lounge
Intex Ultra Lounge
Offered by VMInnovations
Price: $23.99
11 used & new from $23.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably nice for a "blow-up" item..., February 1, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Intex Ultra Lounge (Sports)
Not too long ago, I found myself needing to spend a lot of time in another location. I had the option of getting a fully-furnished place, or of furnishing the "second home" myself, but I really didn't want a commitment... and when I tested out and lost faith in the "rent-a-center" type places, I decided to try this out instead.

So far, I've been VERY pleasantly surprised by just how comfortable this item has turned out to be. It's a bit of a struggle to get back out at times, but when in it, it's basically on par with the most comfortable "lazy-boy" type recliner I've experienced... ideal for unwinding after a long day at the (alternative) office.

As you'd expect with any inflatable, the item does lose pressure over time, and I've found myself reinflating about once every two days so far. I have the manufacturer's own inflation pump setting conveniently nearby both this and the "couch" I got... but so far, it's barely been necessary. It seems that I got units with good seams.

Of course, if you over-inflate, you'll put too much pressure on the seams, and the unit will die prematurely. And if you sit on it with sharp, pointy bits from clothing or jewelry, it's more likely to kill it prematurely as well.

But I have to admit, I'm really impressed. If, by some chance, this happens to fail at some point, I think I'll just replace the damaged unit with a new, identical one.

By the way, the one I got is just as pictured, grey and black, as is my "couch." The flocking is just sufficient to prevent it from feeling slick or sticky, and almost feels like fabric.

Overall, I'm very satisfied so far. If it goes downhill fast, I'll update this review, of course. But for now... I strongly recommend this for anyone wanting a comfortable chair which they can carry around with them in a dufflebag, along with a couch!


Panasonic KX-TCA60 Hands-Free Headset with Comfort Fit Headband for Use with Cordless Phones
Panasonic KX-TCA60 Hands-Free Headset with Comfort Fit Headband for Use with Cordless Phones
Offered by Good As New Electronics
Price: $11.35
223 used & new from $1.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Headset for my Panasonic DEC phone set, January 28, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've seen several reviews which mention how this set doesn't seem to work with other phones (apparently mainly cell phones, it seems). I guess I'm not surprised to hear that, since the headsets I had previously, which I had used with cell phones, didn't work properly with my Panasonic DEC phone set. Likely, they're designed for different electrical requirements.

I've used these with Panasonic DEC style phones exclusively, but two different models. In both cases, they've worked flawlessly and given far better sound quality than the phones themselves do (and they're no slouches, either!)

I've just purchased several more, because, frankly, I've gotten so accustomed to using the headset with my home phone that I don't like to make calls the old-fashioned way anymore. I'll just clip the phone to my belt, put the headset on, and walk around getting near-perfect sound, barely noticing the headset at all.

It's quite comfortable for me. I suppose for someone with a very large head, it might feel tight, and for someone with a very small head, it might feel "loose" and sloppy. You can't really adjust the "head size."

The microphone seems to provide much better voice pickup quality than any other microphone I've had... with the exception of some studio-quality stand microphones.

The cord is just the right length... not so long that it gets in the way but long enough to allow you to set the phone down on the desktop if you wish and not worry about tugging it off the edge.

The little "collar clip" is my only real complaint about this phone... the little tab on the back where it attaches to the cord is a bit weaker than it needs to be... I snapped mine off a while back, and had to find a replacement for it. The replacement I found is a lot sturdier. (see the Audio-Technica AT8439 Clothing Clip for Cable)


Poker-Mouse Deskless mouse
Poker-Mouse Deskless mouse

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very pleased, but still room for improvement, January 21, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Some years ago, Fellowes came out with a handheld trackball solution very similar to this. I own two of these, and still use them regularly (one is beige, and a bit yellowed with age, and the other is silver and blue, and is a perfect match for my older laptop). I recently purchased a product which seemed to be a duplicate of the old Fellowes device, but which turned out to be just terrible... the old Fellowes tooling had been obtained, modified (badly) and the internal components were replaced with absolute... well, let's just say "junk" since I can't use the term I WANT to use here.

After that fiasco, I went ahead and bought the Weramouse. And so far, I've been quite pleased. There are a few quibbles, but I'm certain that the manufacturers are making improvements and there'll be a new version forthcoming which will further expand the usability of the device in the next year or so. Still, right now, this device is the best option on the market for the niche it's intended to fill.

Now, let's be clear... this is not a replacement for a desktop mouse. It's very, very useful, but it will never allow the same level of precision (useful for CAD work and the like) that a mouse or pen tablet can provide. Nor it is really intended to be that sort of thing.

I use this, and used the older Fellowes products, almost exclusively in situations where there's no tabletop to use for a mouse surface. And there are a LOT of those circumstances, which include (but are by no means limited to) the following:

1) When traveling as a passenger in a car.
2) When traveling as a passenger on an airplane.
3) When using a laptop in bed.
4) When controlling a Home Theater PC from your couch or recliner.
5) When controlling a business presentation while walking around the conference room.

Now, the Weramouse is functionally actually quite a bit better than the Fellowes device, and is made from entirely new tooling (although clearly taking its lead from the Fellowes device). In fact, it's a bit larger than the Fellowes device, which is likely an advantage for some folks with larger hands, though this is actually a bit of an annoyance to me, as I have to stretch a bit sometimes when trying to use the top two buttons or the wheel.

The trackball is VERY smooth and quite a bit more precise, it seems, than the older device. It's infinitely better than the cheap knockoff of the Fellowes device currently being sold, of course. It adds wireless functionality, USB charging, and a wheel to the bargain as well, all of which makes it more useful than the old device. It also has features which allow it to be set down on a tabletop and to stand in a stable fashion, which is nice as well, and the "high heel" grip helps to hold it quite a bit, reducing fatigue (though the grip could be improved).

The device has a USB port, and comes with a retractable CHARGE ONLY (ie, no data) cable. There's no real way to distinguish this from a power/data cable, so I've just tossed this into a drawer and use one of my power/data cables (mini-USB 5-pin) to charge it instead. Note that this is not a wired mouse... the USB ONLY charges, and you'll need a second free USB port for the dedicated wireless dongle even if you have the USB cable attached.

There's a small "pair" button on the bottom of the device, and an identical "pair" button on the USB dongle, to let you match up your device to your receiver. As a result, you can easily have multiples of this in the same location without interfering with each other. There's also a small lamp on the rear of the device (at the top of the "high heel" grip) which will light up red when charging and will go green when fully charge. There is no power switch, so once charged, it will remain active until fully discharged, or indefinitely if the charging cable is connected.

So... I recommend this highly. But there's a lot of room for additional improvement, which include the following:

1) The mouse wheel should be a more advanced model, with side-scroll capability and should be clickable.
2) There are two top buttons, to either side of the mouse wheel, but both are identified as "right button" so it's really only one button. These should be two separate buttons, with the ability to assign different click definitions to the three (or four, including the mouse wheel, if #1 is implemented) buttons.
3) There should be a power switch on the device, to permit saving battery power when the device is not in use.
4) There's room for refinement of the shape. I'm not convinced that a better shape (suitable for more sizes of hands) is not possible. I don't know exactly what that would be, though... and that sort of thing is harder than it sounds.

And finally, I would LOVE to see a version of this which uses, instead of the "trackball," a "microstick" (a mini-joystick of the sort that real military aviators use to do what's approximately like "mousing" on their radar screens while in the air). Many higher-end computer joysticks incorporate microsticks now, and a microstick-based version of this would be far, far easier to control than a trackball version (and would have the added benefit of allowing the microstick to be "clickable" as well, giving the device a potential fifth button).

But please, don't take my suggestions and quibbles as negatives. This is, hands down, the best "no tabletop" controller currently on the market. If you need one (as I do), I can recommend this unconditionally.


Targus Lap Chill Mat Jr for 15.6" Laptop, Silver/Gray (AWE73US)
Targus Lap Chill Mat Jr for 15.6" Laptop, Silver/Gray (AWE73US)

5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal cooling mat for my 12" Netbook., January 14, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Let me start off by just saying that this is my third Targus Chill Mat purchase. I have the full size (two fan) version, and the "travel Chill Mat," but just bought this.

All three devices use the same general construction. They're basically flattened tubes, with air flow coming from either end, and passing through a perforated grill to the underside of the computer. The travel mat and the full size mat both use two fans, while the "Jr." version uses only one. The travel unit uses a removable mini-USB cable, while the other two have hard-wired USB cables. And the travel unit is a short wedge, not fully fitting under a device (and thus mostly useful when used on a hard surface) while the other two are full platforms designed to fully support the computer. But the overall construction is identical on all three.

Each is designed to serve a different purpose. The full-size unit is what I've used most... and I was using one for both my full-size laptop and my smaller netbook until recently. The travel unit is perfect for my full-size laptop when traveling, but as it turns out it was not suitable for my little netbook (the netbook is too small and the cooler becomes a "fulcrum" that the netbook teeter-totters on). This unit, on the other hand, is ideal for my netbook.

Now, many netbooks draw very, very little power, but not this one. I have an ASUS EeePC, which normally uses the built-in Intel graphics chip (low-power-draw) but which also has an nVidia ION 2 graphics chip, which is actually a pretty nice graphics chip, but which does draw significant power (and generate significant heat) when in use. So, a passive cooling device wasn't really my first choice.

However, this device is IDEAL for my netbook. It has only one fan, versus the other two versions' two fans, but this provides more than enough forced-convection cooling to ensure that my netbook never becomes more than slightly warm even when running "Far Cry" (a pretty graphically intensive computer game from a couple of years ago).

The power draw from the fan is low enough that it barely impacts battery charge, it seems... and by keeping the battery cooler, it's actually going to significantly extend the overall battery life, if not the individual charge time. (The chemical paste used in lithium ion batteries degrades faster when hot than when cool.)

I've posted reviews for the other two variations of this as well... and the full-size version remains my favorite. But this is perfectly suited for the smaller "netbook" type PC I own.

A couple of points... the USB cord is perfectly suitable, unless you happen to try to use it as a "handle" to drag the thing around. It's not designed for that, and should not be used as a "handle." If you do so, and if the cord fails, that's YOUR FAULT, not the fault of the designers or manufacturers. Second, the rubber "anti-slip pads" on the grill are pressed in place, and can be repositioned if that helps to support your particular computer. Put them where they'll keep you from slipping most effectively... which is going to vary from computer design to computer design.

My ONLY complaint about this device is that I'd have preferred it to be in the dark-grey-and-black, like my other two versions are. I'm not a fan of the light-grey-and-silver coloration of this device... but that's a minor quibble. If Targus made this in the darker color scheme, I've absolutely have chosen that version instead.


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