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Customer Reviews: 167
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Helpful Votes: 3529

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Richard Aubin RSS Feed (Dallas, Texas USA)

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Braun NTF3000US Braun No Touch plus Forehead Thermometer
Braun NTF3000US Braun No Touch plus Forehead Thermometer
Price: $42.99
27 used & new from $38.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars About as accurate as the back of your hand; not worth the price, January 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So, this thermometer arrived about two days before the flu and over the course of a week took a few hundred readings of big people and little people in my house. Generally speaking, oral thermometers are the bane of the little people and a no-touch option was truly welcome. Unfortunately, the accuracy was very questionable; results were repeatable in immediate proximity of time, but not when separated by more than a few seconds.

Specifically, I would take three readings of the forehead area recommended by the manufacturer (two from an inch or two away and one from direct contact), these would all be clustered within a tenth of a degree or so (e.g., 101.1, 101.2, 101.1) and then I would take another three readings about ten seconds later that would also be clustered but a few degrees lower (e.g., 99.2, 99.4, 99.2). There were no external causes that I was aware of that would cause that fluctuation and I am hard pressed to believe that there was an actual fluctuation over that range in that short of a time.

Now accuracy within a half degree or so may not be critical in the evaluation of illness, but trends are important and if you need to verify for a school that your child has been fever-free for a period of time, you'll want to be able to make an accurate representation to the school. Basically, we ended up taking multiple readings to confirm the ballpark temperature and then using an oral thermometer to confirm edge case numbers (high or low). This largely defeats the purpose of using a thermometer in the first place. If I'm only getting a ballpark reading anyway, I might as well just use the back of my hand; it works about as well - not hot, borderline, hot, very hot.

Sure, it was nice to do it all touch-less and the kids love it, but fifty bucks is just too high, for me, for a ballpark thermometer. Now, to be fair, it seems like they gave out hundreds of these to folks from Klout and some other free-stuff site (they mostly are folks with one or two reviews on Amazon) and if you can get it that way, then maybe free is worth it to you.

18k Yellow Gold Plated Sterling Silver African Amethyst Oval Twisted Tennis Bracelet, 7.25"
18k Yellow Gold Plated Sterling Silver African Amethyst Oval Twisted Tennis Bracelet, 7.25"
Price: $91.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice - consistent and interesting, January 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very nice bracelet. I'm no gemologist, but the amethysts are beautiful with a vivid, deep color that is uniform across all of the gems. The setting is interesting for a tennis bracelet and stout. the stones are all quite secure. The pronged side of the setting allows for more of the indicvidual stones to show. The clasp is very solid and relatively simple to engage or disengage.

CANON MAXIFY iB4020 Wireless Small Office Printer
CANON MAXIFY iB4020 Wireless Small Office Printer
Price: $99.00
7 used & new from $99.00

4.0 out of 5 stars A very good printer for the right-sized office, January 2, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It was a fairly easy setup, despite the pictograph instructions (e.g., does that indicate the paper trays are supposed to stick out, or that they aren't? answer: they do). The quality is pretty good, but it is definitely a SOHO and not a business-class machine. Printing an email? It felt slow. (compared to a business-class laser printer) I printed a one page, black & white business document with fairly good text coverage - it took about 30 seconds (quality was excellent though). There are some other oddities: it won't pull paper from tray 2, if tray 1 is empty - even if it isn't going to print from tray 1 - it waits for you to fill tray 1 and then prints from tray 2.

Setting it on a wired network was the easiest setup I think I've ever had for a printer. Plus, it still showed up on my phone as an AirPrint device. Printing from the phone was very straightforward and the paper types were clearly marked (it showed "photo paper" and "plain paper" as options, not Tray 1 or Tray 2).

The print quality is very good - type is clean and crisp, color rendition is good. I printed a color photograph on letter-size photo paper - it was generally quite good, but an area of black had some artifacting that you could easily see on close inspection. I think this would be a very good printer for a small business that was looking for a secondary printer that could do color printing from time to time. It's not fast enough for volume work and the footprint is a bit big for a small home office (particularly if it is a secondary machine).

Epson PULSENSE PS-500  Heart Rate Monitor with Activity Tracking for iOS
Epson PULSENSE PS-500 Heart Rate Monitor with Activity Tracking for iOS
Price: $199.99
5 used & new from $150.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good monitor with lots of room for improvement., December 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are days where I really wish I could give three and a half stars. This is a nice monitor with some flaws and weaknesses that seem to be most software related. The core functions of the watch are reasonably good - the heart monitor seems fairly accurate (although it sometimes loses its mind and skyrockets my rate for no reason), the sleep monitor was deadly accurate for me (in that I get lousy sleep, but a fair amount of it). The charger is a little clunkier than I would expect (it takes two hands to get the monitor into the charger). But, the watch fits well, looks nice and gets pretty solid battery life. The calorie tracking is middling (they say to wear the watch on your non-dominant hand). I think a lot of this can be adjusted by software/firmware updates.

The iPhone connection worked fine for me with n problems, although it would be nice if it could do a background sync of data. The app is pretty marginal - you get the basics, but it doesn't feel like a full-featured, polished app. I think Epson is hoping that other developers will really take care of the app piece and include the PS-500 as a supported device. In that regard, I really don't understand why the current version of the app does not integrate with HealthKit - Apple's hub for data of the type this monitor generates. Hopefully we will see that soon. So, for basic monitoring, I think the S-500 does a pretty good job and shows a lot of room for potential. I'd say 3.5 stars that could easily go to 4 with a bit more polish.

Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 and iPad Air (Blacktop / Gravel)
Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 and iPad Air (Blacktop / Gravel)
Price: $59.99
28 used & new from $21.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A child of two worlds . . . which path will you choose?, December 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Do you want the brainy, work-a-day "Vulcan" iPad, bulkier but with a keyboard - a caged beast? Or, do you want the light and airy, Air 2, light and carefree but without the keyboard, the emotive "Human" iPad? That's the question I feel this keyboard case puts to you; there's no way around it. Why? Because once you get your iPad into this thing, accompanied with much wailing and gnashing of teeth, you are not going to want to pull it out tomorrow night to watch a movie or browse around. So, which iPad do you want?

If you want a straight-up keyboard case and plan to use your device almost exclusively for "productivity" then this is a great case. I've had none of the connectivity issues that others have described. The connection has been solid; the keys feel great; they keyboard does not feel overly cramped; the magnets work very, very well - holding the screen in place for keyboard use at a variety of angles. The case is nice and professional in appearance.

But, it's clunky and uncomfortable to use as a handheld iPad when the case is attached It's heavier than I would have expected and it increases the size back to pre-Air sizes. Most of all, you won't be sliding it in and out of its case with ease to use it - you will feel mostly confined to one configuration. It's a secure fit, for sure. Easily a five-star product if you could just get the iPad in and out of the case without having to wrestle with it to the point of fear that you might actually break something.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2014 6:55 AM PST

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T1UU (13.3-inch Full HD, NVIDIA Tegra K1, 4GB)
Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T1UU (13.3-inch Full HD, NVIDIA Tegra K1, 4GB)
Price: $324.89

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-promise and under-delivers; an okay machine, but Mr. Scott would be displeased., December 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a solid machine, but it is not a delightful experience. Yes, the battery lasts for what feels like forever and it is very good at lightweight tasks - some browsing, email, etc. Perhaps that's all you should really expect for the price, but I feel like it is marketed as something more: Full HD! 192 graphic cores! and so on.

In that regard, it disappoints a bit. The quality of the screen is pretty low. It is beset with a very heavy, matte anti-glare coating of some sort; a coating so heavy that it washes out the screen and makes it hard to view on anything except the highest brightness setting - even in a dark room. There's also a sweet spot viewing angle - if you aren't in it, the visibility of the screen drops markedly. It's like looking at a projection TV from the 90's. So, HD and speedy graphics don't really do more than add to the disappointment - it's not delightful, it's serviceable if you are in the exact right viewing position.

The operating system, Chrome, is somewhat arcane and not well organized. For example, you can set up supervised accounts for children, but not from the "Add User" interface. I had to search online to find out how to do it - it has to be done from the login screen. It's not intuitive at all. Speaking of which, the child controls are quite poor. Hopefully these and other irregularities can be worked out as the OS matures.

If you get past the marketing and are looking for a light duty machine for browsing and email, this would be a good choice; relatively inexpensive and can get the basics done. It doesn't have the feel of either a hard-working, get business done laptop, or of an entertainment type system with great video performance.

Holmes Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo Whole Home Humidifier, HCM3888C-AMZ
Holmes Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo Whole Home Humidifier, HCM3888C-AMZ
Price: $199.99
19 used & new from $167.82

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good humidifier made better with remote control features., November 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
On the whole, this is a pretty decent choice for a humidifier (and your only choice if you are looking for a remotely controllable unit). Capacity is roughly 4.5 gallons - there are two, 2.0 gallon filler tanks (shaped like jerry cans) and then the main unit's capacity. It does what it is supposed to do - at the high setting it used all of the water in about 15 hours. This will, of course, vary from house to house depending on your conditions. Access to the filters is very easy; same for the water tanks. The unit is quite loud on max setting and very quiet on the min setting (there are 5 settings in all).

The unit is essentially plastic and I think our unit looks black all around as opposed to the faux-walnut finish shown in the item description. The build is okay, but not great. For example: the digital hygrometer on our unit is not parallel with the front of the unit - it's off just enough to be distracting. Speaking of the hygrometer, it is all over the place - that may be a function of air circulation (it is near a ceiling fan and the air vent for the room where it is located). Nonetheless, it should work on an average basis then - it is not unusual to see the number change by 30 points within a minute, but it does seem to be more settled when the fan and central air are off.

The WiFi setup is nominally easy, but turned into a complete beating. The app crashed at some point during setup and I had a heck of a time getting the app and the unit in sync. It was maddening and then eventually it just worked. I fault the WeMo app more than anything on this. Since I got it synced up, it has been pretty much flawless in that regard. The notifications (15% water remaining) are super handy and the ability to change the fan speed remotely is great too. I didn't think I would find the connected features to be that useful, but I was wrong.

So, I'd give it three and a half stars, but I'll round up to four. It has run very well since I finished the WeMo setup and does its job. As far as I know, there are no other connected humidifiers like this; so, in that regard it is in a class by itself.

[As a side note, for those who use IFTTT for more extensive control of devices and their ilk, there is no WeMo channel for this device yet (there are for many other WeMo devices). I can only assume that is coming and once it does, it will greatly expand the type of automated control you can use over the device - e.g., turn it on automatically when I leave the office, turn it on when the weather report shows a temperature drop.]

Olinger Stories (Everyman's Pocket Classics)
Olinger Stories (Everyman's Pocket Classics)
by John Updike
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.97
77 used & new from $8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent reissue, artfully bound., November 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a delight to see this re-issue of Updike's collection of his early works. It's a marvelous and easy introduction for the novice to one of the great American writers of the 20th century, plying his trade through the short story form. For those more familiar with Updike, it's a great reminiscence of his work and style - a rich and dense tapestry of detail. The book itself is a handsome volume; nicely bound with high quality paper and ink (smell it, seriously). It's a fine example of the bookmaker's art that is a worthy companion to Updike's work.

As an aside, if the theme (growing up in rural Pennsylvania) strikes a chord with you, you might also like Fred Chappell's book, I Am One of You Forever, about growing up in North Carolina during a similar timeframe as Updike.

Danco 10718X Perfect Seal Toilet Wax Ring
Danco 10718X Perfect Seal Toilet Wax Ring
Price: $9.98
10 used & new from $7.29

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seals the deal!, November 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
So, we learned the hard way that the old wax ring had failed; no fun. I knew we needed to replace it and luckily this Danco Perfect Seal presented itself a few days later. As long as I was going to remove the toilet to replace the ring, it seemed like a good point to replace the old four-flusher (yes, that's 4 gallons per flush) with a more economical toilet (and get a city water credit). The unit we ended up purchasing, a Kohler Cimarron, came with a wax ring and the salesman at the store suggested we get another one, just in case we had an installation problem. No need!

The Perfect Seal has the benefits of wax and an unbelievable ease of installation. I've included some pictures so you can see the wax and also see the Perfect Seal mounted on the flange. Installation of the ring was a breeze and it made installing the toilet worry free and straightforward as well.
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Lorex LW1742 Live SD Wireless Recording Video Surveillance System with 2 Cameras (Black)
Lorex LW1742 Live SD Wireless Recording Video Surveillance System with 2 Cameras (Black)
Price: $219.99
30 used & new from $125.62

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good choice for basic security; it has some limitations., November 7, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been somewhat conflicted over the rating and review for this system. It is, I think, what it aspires to be - a relatively inexpensive surveillance system that is somewhat de-featured, but still offers a lot of the basics and a good picture quality. It's not really clear from the description here, but there is no remote access to this system; you cannot check on it from out of town, or at the office and there's no way to get remote notifications that the motion detection has been triggered. If that's important to you, then you should look at one of the many other systems that Lorex offers. Lorex actually markets this lack of connectivity as a "feature" on its own website. You -can- remove the micro-sd card and watch any recorded video on a computer, using a dedicated Lorex app or most other video playback programs. (I was able to view recorded videos on my Mac using the VLC app.)

The setup is easy and operation is relatively straightforward for basic items, but overly arcane for other things (e.g., formatting a new memory card cannot be done from the "SD Card" choice in the menus, it's actually buried in the "Recording" choice.). The "feather-touch controls" are non-responsive at times and required a few reboots to sort it out (I believe the unit has upgradeable firmware, so hopefully this can be resolved on the software side). Motion detection works, but seems overly sensitive at times. There is not a lot of clarity in the gradations of sensitivity (there are five levels, I think) - it mostly seems to be hyper-sensitive (2-5) or totally out to lunch (1) - but the feature is there and you can set it to record upon detection for some period of time. You can also set it to just straight-up record.

A few words about the cameras on this system . . . the picture quality is quite good for SD and the night-time quality is very good (the cameras have a lot of infrared lights) - although some items will give a high reflectance to IR emissions (true of almost any night system). The cameras are billed as weather-resistant and have the appearance of outdoor cameras - yet the instructions suggest that the cameras should not have direct exposure to the elements. It's hard to say whether they really need shelter or whether Lorex is hedging against folks who might otherwise put this unit somewhere where it could be submerged in water (you never know what people are going to do with these things). I've mounted one of the cameras in a non-sheltered area and will see how it goes.

Overall, I'm somewhat conflicted on the rating. It's not an awesome system, but it is a good one and probably a good one for the money. The security you get is basic - much more of a "Hey, who threw that rock through the window of my car." than a proactive system that would notify you remotely that a camera had been triggered. Ultimately I think it mostly achieves what it aspires to be, so 4-stars instead of 3. If basic security is what you are looking for, then this is probably a good choice.

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