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Geoff Miller RSS Feed (Kanata, Ontario)
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Honeywell HCM-6009 Cool Moisture Console Humidifier
Honeywell HCM-6009 Cool Moisture Console Humidifier
Price: $82.64
85 used & new from $44.90

191 of 222 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Why reviews posted before 2012 don't matter, February 8, 2013
Honeywell (actually Kaz) has seen its quality control go downhill. After using an HCM-3060 flawlessly for well over 11 years that I cracked, I bought an HCM-300T. The bearings in the motor failed after 15 months, consistent with reviews posted on Amazon and throughout the internet.

In doing my research, the HCM6009 had a 5 year warranty and was a Proudly Made in USA product. The owners manuals found online from a few years back confirm this.

Not any more.

The new HCM6009 -- just like my kaputz HCM300T -- has been quietly outsourced to China. Even worse, Kaz quietly reduced the warranty from 5 years to 3 years. And Kaz now charges US$10 or CAD$15.50 (in Canada) for warranty service, not to mention the shipping costs you incur for sending it back to their return center.

Again, the Kaz/Honeywell products of recent times have gone downhill in the quality and warranty department. Regrettably, this no longer is your grandfather's humidifier.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 28, 2016 9:13 AM PST


Honeywell HCM-300T QuietCare 3-Gallon UV Tower Humidifier
Honeywell HCM-300T QuietCare 3-Gallon UV Tower Humidifier
Price: $94.11
34 used & new from $70.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Broke after 14 months (and used only 5 of those months), February 6, 2013
My experience is consistent with other posters -- the motor of this machine is of poor quality and the 3 year warranty will leave you feeling shortchanged. After purchasing the unit in December 2011, mine ran flawlessly as a winter months machine. Suddenly, in January 2013, with no forewarning, the motor became loud and the bearings failed on it.

Some points:
(1) The warranty is not free. You have to send a check for US$10 (or a CAD$15.50 cheque in Canada) for warranty coverage. Shipment costs will vary by location, but mine cost $21 to ship back, putting my costs (yes, under warranty) at $36. Based on this track record, I fully expect to send this in for service again.

(2) For comparison, my old humidifier lasted well over 10 years with no signs of quitting. I discarded it after placing it too close to a heater, melting the plastic frame.

(3) For those concerned about noise, replacing the filter with one of the new Honeywell filters (with a blue band around the outside) has a _very_ significant noise reduction impact.

In summary, failure after less than 1.5 years means I cannot recommend this unit under any circumstances.


Garmin Forerunner 210 Water Resistant GPS Enabled Watch without Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 210 Water Resistant GPS Enabled Watch without Heart Rate Monitor
Offered by PRICERIGHT
Price: $124.00
32 used & new from $39.00

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware the 4 showstoppers in this stopwatch, June 12, 2012
I was given a Garmin 210 as a Christmas gift, and was excited about the prospect of abandoning my 11-year old Polar HRM in favor of a GPS-enabled solution. Unfortunately, the Garmin 210 has proved to be nothing but a curse.

Problems:
(1) GPS satellite synchronization can easily take 10+ minutes upon startup. I advise starting the GPS sync at least 15 minutes prior to your run. On most of my runs, it misses the first 8/10th of a mile while it searches for a satellite. And I'm running outdoors - in wide open spaces where direct line of sight in the sky abounds.

(2) Battery life is awful. If you run more than 3 times a week, it will need to be on the charger nightly. Coming from a Polar that required battery replacement once every four years, this is a royal disappointment for me. The 210 died on me in the middle of 3 ordinary runs in the past 6 months and during the middle of a 10k race. The watch is huge already -- I'm amazed that it's so huge yet there's not much battery life inside of this monster.

(3) The 4-pronged USB connector is flaky and gets an unreliable connection. I've taken it off the charger to find it dead several times. When I connect it to my computer, it's a battle for either my desktop or laptop to recognize it (one can see it about 50% of the time, the other sees it about 20% of the time when I plug the USB cable in). The relief is that the watch can save several runs on it, so at least when your computer is refusing to talk, it doesn't get mad.

(4) Calibation? I don't know if the people who measure the races around here are screwed up, but I've run two 10k races that showed up as 6.15 - 6.2 mile distances. While it has been a pleasant surprise, this makes me wonder if Garmin's claim of 99% accuracy is 99% wrong.

Overall, this watch is a great idea with very poor engineering. What Garmin should fix is:
--guarantee GPS sync within 20 seconds
--battery life of at least 1 month when running 4 times a week
--use an ordinary microUSB connector that works with any cable and works reliably!
--make this watch less bulky. It's fat and heavy.

When it does work, it's nice to know your pace and telemetry, and nice to be able to store the runs. But I regret throwing the receipt away as it would have been returned for a refund had I not chucked it.

I have slowly but surely reverted back to my Polar for more and more of my runs...namely because the battery is dead or nearly dead so often, and because I hate spending 5+ minutes waiting for a GPS satellite linkup on a sunny clear day, and mainly because it's a step bigger and heavier compared to predecessors.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 4, 2012 2:54 PM PDT


Belkin Conserve Valet with Energy-Saving USB Charging Station
Belkin Conserve Valet with Energy-Saving USB Charging Station

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, bad design. Here's why I threw mine away., January 2, 2012
The Belkin "conserve" valet is a great idea with bad design. Very bad design. The "conserve" marketing angle was created for one simple reason: this is a very bad charger, and they needed an angle to spin a bad product as positively as possible.

The concept of replacing a pile of wallwart AC chargers with one big one is great. The reality is that this charger is an oversized, hollow, plastic box that cannot charge many everyday portable devices.

This valet will not charge:
iPads
RIM Playbook
Playstation 3 joysticks
PS3 "Move" joysticks

This valet also turns off (!) after the last device is charged. I have had several devices discharge after recharging on it, resulting in a less than full battery after pushing the big green button.

The sloped black back is shiny, slippery plastic, NOT rubber. Unless you have a rubber cellphone case or attach pieces of velcro to your mobile items and the Conserve, your valuable electronic devices tend to slide right off and land on the ground.

Here's what Belkin *should* have designed:
--Make this charger always stay on. Always: so when I plug things in, they start charging immediately. Get rid of the "conserve" feature as the 39 cents a year I pay for standby electricity means it will take over 112 years to pay back the electricity saved. It will not pay back for all the half-charged devices or times I forgot to push the green button.

--Provide more juice. Be able to charge big devices like joysticks and tablets.

--Get rid of the big hollow plastic box. Make it like a power bar, with a bunch of USB hubs to plug into. Or, if Belkin MUST keep the big hollow plastic box, at least replace the plastic lid with rubber so your devices actually rest on it.

--Provide at least 8 USB cables: 2 mini-USB charge cables, 4 micro-USB, and 2 Apple chargers. Why they only supply 2 mini-USB and 1 micro-USB charge cable is beyond me.

My Belkin Conserve valet now resides in one of the City of Ottawa landfills. Unfortunately Belkin is 0 for 2 with me, with my USB KVM switch failing (and taking well over 8 months for a refund check after they were unable to build a replacement unit), and this device is simply the worst piece of electronics I purchased in 2011.


Acer AOD250-1197 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook - Up to 8 Hours of Battery Life (Windows 7 Starter)
Acer AOD250-1197 10.1-Inch Blue Netbook - Up to 8 Hours of Battery Life (Windows 7 Starter)

355 of 358 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Acer beats HP & Asus in build quality & ergonomics, November 8, 2009
The Acer Aspire D250 is a great netbook PC, and the 1197 flavor contains four differentiators:
(1) Windows 7 Starter OS
(2) 250GB hard disk drive
(3) 6 cell battery (~8 hours' lifespan)
(4) the standard English keyboard layout

..and it comes in blue :-)

Having visited 8 different retail stores and having tried/returned two Asus 1005HA's, I spent a considerable amount of time comparing / contrasting models.

In comparing the Acer Aspire One D250 to the bestselling Asus 1005HA-PU17 and other netbooks:
(1) The D250 is lighter, even with the 6 cell battery. If one were to buy the 3 cell battery (~2 hour life) to save even more weight, it would be in the featherweight category. The Asus 1005HA's battery is so bulky and unbalanced it almost makes the netbook want to teeter-totter around its back legs.

(2) The D250 is quieter. Unlike the 1005HA, the fan does not turn on when browsing the web, running virus scans, etc.

(3) The D250's keyboard is 89% the size of a regular keyboard, and it is smaller than Dell, HP, and Asus 10" netbook keyboards. However, I was able to type my usual 70WPM without issue.

(4) The D250 has _NO_ hard disk vibrations. The Asus 1005HA had hard drive vibrations that were not only noticeable, they ran straight into my wrists and were irritating. Many other 10" netbooks have this problem too. This issue becomes very noticeable when you spend 15 minutes drafting a document or writing an e-mail.

(5) The 1005HA has a slightly bigger touchpad.

Canadian users would be wise to order the 1197 version of the D250 as the U.S. keyboard is much easier to use than the multilingual French/English keyboard. The Shift keys are wide, and the Enter key can be reached easily. Such is not the case with the multilingual keyboard.

My only complaint is that I prefer a matte screen to the glossy screen. It is vulnerable to reflections and glare.

***Notes on Windows 7***
Windows 7 Starter is very comparable to Windows XP. The main feature disabled on Win7 Starter edition is the "Aero" feature, which is standard on Win7 Home Edition or Premium versions. However, the Intel Atom/N270 and Intel 950 GMA chipset lacks the graphics horsepower to run "Aero," even if one were to upgrade Win7 editions. This hindrance applies to any netbook with the N270/950 chipset (Asus, HP 110, Dell Mini), not just the Acer D250. At the time this review was written, upgrading from Starter to Home Premium had a steep price tag -- in the $75 - $80 range. And the "Aero" feature would have to be disabled anyway...

Nevertheless, the Acer D250 is among the best built, the quietest, and lightest of the 10" Intel Atom based netbooks available today. Highly recommended.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2010 6:41 PM PST


Asus Eee PC 1005HA-MU17-BU 10.1-Inch Intel Atom Netbook Computer (Royal Blue)
Asus Eee PC 1005HA-MU17-BU 10.1-Inch Intel Atom Netbook Computer (Royal Blue)

107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ergonomic keyboard defeated by vibration problems, October 31, 2009
Asus nearly has the netbook PC perfected. The size and ergonomics of this keyboard are bar none the best among netbooks today. The wide touchpad has the right level of sensitivity as well. And Windows 7, even with the entry level Starter edition, offers much faster processing & bootup times than Windows XP does on the Intel Atom N270 processor.

However, the Asus Eee 1005HA has its achilles heel in mechanical design. The 250GB HDD has undamped vibrations that pass throughout the chassis and straight into your wrists. The fan also runs excessively. The combination creates high levels of noise and vibration compared to similar netbooks such as the Acer Aspire One D250. Also, even without Anti-Virus software running, Windows 7 and the preloaded software consume 40% of the available 1GB of memory.

Asus will undoubtedly be working out the kinks in this netbook, but many users will find the vibration and noise levels to be unacceptable, especially when other manufacturers offer netbooks without these concerns. Once Asus releases a thermally cool, vibrationless version with 2GB DDR2 memory, this netbook will be unstoppable.

Update: after exchanging for a second 1005HA, it has the exact same vibration issues. This endemic rather than a one-off dud.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2010 8:31 AM PDT


Ultracolor 400UC 135-36
Ultracolor 400UC 135-36

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very finicky film to work with, October 6, 2008
Kodak's line of (soon to be gone) Ultra Color film should be renamed Ultra Contrast. This color print film is like Velvia on steroids. Having worked with it a bit, here are my observations:
(1) It is great film for photographing low contrast objects. Things like dark bronze statues have their details very well defined. It's also great for photographing stone architecture buildings that would normally have their stonework detail washed out by most other films.
(2) 400UC literally vacuums color onto the negative. It is very punchy and the film will "see" far more color than the human eye does. This characteristic makes it a spectacular film --for the right circumstances.
(3) At the same time, contrast is the most extreme of any print film available today. Minor shadows will show up as very dark, so your picture must have full or near-full lighting. Forget about night or low-light photography with this film; the prints will saturate black. Fireworks at night are better served by Kodachrome or Fuji Reala.
(4) I could not imagine anybody doing portraiture with this film.

If one is to use this film, go hunting for color on a bright, sunny day. Flowers, vegetables, grafitti art, architecture, stained glass, and statues are great candidates to photograph with 400UC. Just avoid any shadows while you're at it.

Lastly, at the time of writing this review, Kodak has announced that the Ultra Color line is being discontinued in favor of a new Ektar 100 product. 400UC users are advised by Kodak to use the Portra 400VC instead, which is a much easier film to work with.


Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition
Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition
by Random House
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from $32.41

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable binding, hurts when you drop it on your foot, November 12, 2007
The Random House Unabridged dictionary captures about 315,000 of the 20 million words in the English language. After dropping it on my big toe yesterday, I used several more words that were not referenced in it, and also learned the definition of pain. My toe turned blue due to the blunt impact, with the weight of this dictionary tantamount to dropping a deadweight hammer. Furthermore, the binding on my 3-day old dictionary delaminated, and it is now in the garbage. This is the first book I have ever owned that has caused human injury and has serious quality problems in its assembly.

I recommend this dictionary only with the use of steel-toed boots and in a safe, well-lit place of use. Aside from safety issues, the content of this dictionary is quite useful.


Tamrac 5273 Expedition 3 Photo Backpack (Black)
Tamrac 5273 Expedition 3 Photo Backpack (Black)
Offered by Firemall LLC

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too small for SLR; too big for point-and-shoot cameras, November 11, 2007
I was looking for a backpack upgrade after finding my over-the-shoulder bag too small to hold a two lenses, film, a filter wallet, and a cleaning kit for my Nikon N6006, (which is an average sized SLR). The Tamrac Expedition 3 disappointed me for several reasons:

(1) Too small -- the bag is NOT the size of an average backpack; it is about 40% smaller, and closer to a shoebox in profile. There is no room for lens hoods. Even the slack from the camera strap causes space problems when trying to zip/unzip the bag. Tamrac certainly could have made this bag much more functional had it been the size of a standard backpack.

(2) No room for film -- upon buying the bag, I found out that it requires a film holster accessory in order to hold film (sold separately). The other alternative is to leave a lens behind and use that space instead.

(3) Inadequate space for filters -- a filter wallet will fit in the front pouch with a bit of finagling. But they are somewhat unprotected, and if a tripod is mounted on the outside, it will be applying pressure on this space and compromising the filters.

(4) Slow access due to hard to open zippers -- the fabric and zippers are stiff and difficult to unzip and access. Spontaneous quick-reaction photography is nearly impossible if your camera is packed away.

This bag is a great idea without a market: it's far too big for a point-and-shoot camera, but far too small to carry the standard accessories any SLR photographer would normally keep. I strongly recommend looking at other options, and do carefully compare dimensions.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2015 1:16 PM PDT


Logitech Harmony 550 Universal Remote Control (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Logitech Harmony 550 Universal Remote Control (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Rocket Monkey
Price: $155.49
11 used & new from $35.50

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great concept badly engineered, November 5, 2007
The Harmony 550 is an "all right" but not a great universal remote. For the price tag it demands, there are better options.

Shortcomings:
(1) Ergonomics -- the buttons are just plain too small. And if the size of the buttons isn't trouble enough, the non-spatial row of buttons design is a second cause for annoyance. In other words, you never get an intuitive feel for the button layout, and it results in daily occurence of user error...even after 8 months of ownership. And it's nearly impossible to navigate with the lights in the room dimmed.

(2) Ease of configuration -- you can get up and running in crude fashion in 15 minutes. Getting the remote to really work like the one that came with your TV/DVD player/Receiver takes about 2.5 hours of trial-and-error optimization. It turns the volume up & down in much larger quantums than the OEM remote, and will often change one too many channels when channel surfing. Through loading and reloading and resting the remote, these types of kinks can be reduced after a 1-2 hours of debug. But they can't be eliminated altogether.

Logitech took on a big challenge in making the king of universal remotes. This one has software optimization and ergonomic problems that other Logitech remotes don't have.


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