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Customer Reviews: 633
Top Reviewer Ranking: 326
Helpful Votes: 7474




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Kevin Nicholls "jaded, aging hipster" RSS Feed (Milford, MI)
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Defender 21159 Sentinel Pro Widescreen 150-Feet 8CH Security DVR with 2TB Storage and 4 Surveillance 800TVL Cameras with Night Vision (Black)
Defender 21159 Sentinel Pro Widescreen 150-Feet 8CH Security DVR with 2TB Storage and 4 Surveillance 800TVL Cameras with Night Vision (Black)
Price: $399.99
5 used & new from $399.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good system for the price, with only a minor drawback., July 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My very first impression was how well-constructed the cameras are. I don't know that I'd call them weatherproof, but if you keep them reasonably placed outside, the elements shouldn't be a problem. I also liked that the wires weren't easy to get to -- which is something you don't always see in this grade of security system.

The image quality is pretty decent in daylight conditions. While the night vision is cool, it probably isn't going to be enough to identify an average person.

Using the DVR is intuitive and simple, and 2TB is tons of storage space for just about any application.

Really, my only contention is the wiring. In this day and age, I'd really prefer to see CAT5 and power over ethernet. That way, you can run plenum cable if you need to meet code requirements, and plain old PVC if you don't.


Onkyo TX-NR838 7.2-Ch Dolby Atmos Ready Network A/V Receiver w/ HDMI 2.0
Onkyo TX-NR838 7.2-Ch Dolby Atmos Ready Network A/V Receiver w/ HDMI 2.0
Offered by Moe's AV
Price: $1,009.99
18 used & new from $849.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Onkyo's got a real hit here., July 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having tried a TX-NR828, and going back to my Yamaha AVENTAGE RX-A830, the new TX-NR838 had a pretty high bar to meet. I have to admit, it does a commendable job.

The array of inputs is really nothing to write home about on a receiver in this price range, however, having proper amplified analog phono inputs was something I was happy to see, because my old preamp is less than stellar. The audio quality really shines here, and it's impressive enough that I'm shopping around for a new turntable now.

Unfortunately, Onkyo's updated receiver still makes it a pain to match video and audio, if you're not using HDMI. I've got a PS4, Xbox 360, DirecTV receiver, Blu-Ray player, Roku 3, and upscaling DVD player that all connect reasonably well over HDMI (Onkyo really wants you to match component to labeled component on HDMI) but the addition of a Wii, region-free DVD player, and tape deck make it difficult to get audio and video to match. This is in contrast to Yamaha's approach, where you can match any audio source to any video source, without regard to where the source is physically connected.

As with the TX-NR828, the unit itself is a monster, and you need to consider not only the overall dimensions in a "will it fit?" perspective, but also keep in mind that the 838 runs quite warm. You need to ensure that there's a lot of airflow available, if you plan on keeping this for long.

Speaking of keeping it for long, I'm really impressed with the potential longevity of this receiver. Between the 4K UHD support (oddly, not on 2 of the HDMI ports) and upgradable Dolby Atmos support, there's a lot of forward-looking functionality here that should keep you from needing to upgrade anytime soon.

Onkyo's menu design and on-screen design continue to be top-notch, and configuration is reasonably easy for an average enthusiast. Sure, you can plug it in and go, but chances are in this range, you want to tweak just about anything you can. Onkyo lets you do it, and largely keeps out of your way. Included Wifi makes it easy to connect to the standard stack of internet radio options (Pandora, Spotify, Sirius/XM, etc.) and mobile device apps. Once again, Onkyo has chosen to go Bluetooth instead of Airplay. If you don't have an Apple device, this won't matter to you. If you do, consider that true integration requires a buy-up with the (now discontinued) DS-A5 dock.

When it comes to audio quality, you can really see the improvements in the 838. While I was able to get "Best Buy demo sound" out of the 828, the newer 838 is truly a delight to listen to, and much easier to live with. Streaming FLAC files to the 838 is nothing short of wonderful, and getting the sound just right was a huge improvement.

As much as I like to point to competitive models, Onkyo really has a winner here. Not quite five stars, but not far from it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 8:39 PM PDT


AmazonBasics Lightning Car Charger for iPhone, iPad and iPod (2.1 Amp Output) - Apple certified
AmazonBasics Lightning Car Charger for iPhone, iPad and iPod (2.1 Amp Output) - Apple certified
Price: $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The build quality is quite good, and if I had to guess, July 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm generally a fan of AmazonBasics products, and this charger is no exception. The build quality is quite good, and if I had to guess, I'd say that Anker is probably the actual manufacturer. The power output is decent, and my iPhone 5s has gone from 1% to the high 80's in a 1-hour commute (with constant data and Bluetooth usage, between calls and streaming music).

One of the unique aspects of this charger, is that the cord is quite short. If your plug is in your center cubby-hole, and if that's roughly where you keep your phone, you're going to love this. On the other hand, if your plug is in your armrest or center console, you may find that the cord is much too short.

It's a good product, but if you don't absolutely need the short cord, I'd suggest considering the Anker dual-port USB charger and using your Lightning cable with it.


NETGEAR AC3200 Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000)
NETGEAR AC3200 Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000)
Price: $299.99
2 used & new from $299.99

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Your mileage may vary. For example, mine's pretty awful., July 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have a pretty diverse network -- a couple of MacBook Pros, a Lenovo W520, an HP 8550, a couple of home-built systems, iOS tablets, Android tablets, an old Roku, a new Roku, printers, cell phones, VoIP phones, NAS, and Blu-Ray players. Some are wired. Some are wireless. I'm sure I'm missing other things there.

Having been a network engineer well before the 802.11b spec was anything anyone cared about, I was really excited to see Netgear was building a multi-core router that could handle my devices *and* be smart enough to create a "slow lane". I had been giving some lower-end Cisco gear some consideration, but for my consoles, UPnP was a deal breaker. (Can I add static routes and ACLs for each console and program that expects UPnP to be there? Sure. Do I want to? No.)

Out of the box, I was underwhelmed. I don't know what kind of gear people are using that makes the build quality seem "premium" here, but Netgear's own switches are built way better than this router and at a tenth (yes, 1/10) of the price. I flipped out each antenna, plugged it in, and got to configuring...

The initial configuration from my Windows 8 system wanted to poop router and NAS applications on my system. I took a look at the router app, and ended up firing up a browser. The admin page that came up was indistinguishable from Netgear's N900 router, which I thought was a major disappointment. This is squarely marketed as an enthusiast's router, so I was expecting at least as much functionality as you'd get out of DD-WRT on a throwaway router. Not so with the R8000. The router quickly called home and asked for a firmware update (V1.0.0.74_1.0.31)

Once I had it configured, I started moving wireless clients over. About halfway through, I noticed that a couple of devices saw two 5GHz SSID's instead of one. Later testing would show that the router wasn't forcing slow devices to flop over to their own network. If the device could see two SSIDs with the same name, they'd associate with whatever you chose on the device, instead of the router being "smart" and choosing what network to allow association with.

Strike one.

Later in the evening, I noticed my Macbook Pro stopped passing WAN traffic, but didn't have any trouble hitting LAN traffic. Rebooting the router resolved the problem. And rebooting the router resolved the problem again after four hours. And again...

Strike two.

My ultra-fast router *should* be pretty impressive when it comes to LAN traffic, right? I mean, my months-old MacBook Pro *should* be able to connect to the network with the fastest throughput, and it *should* be pretty fast to my NAS device, connected to the router via GigE. Well, not so much. The throughput I'm seeing is in the neighborhood of 70 megabits. Even at 30% overhead, I should be seeing almost ten times the throughput I'm getting.

Strike three.

I noticed that Netgear has recently released V1.0.0.90_1.0.39 firmware, which seems to have addressed the "the WAN just stops working" problem, but has made LAN throughput even worse.

Sorry, Netgear. That just won't do. For what this costs, I can buy three routers and run three separate wireless networks for less money, with improved throughput, and improved range.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 3:18 PM PDT


Pinemeadow Golf Site 1 Putter, Right Hand, 34-Inch
Pinemeadow Golf Site 1 Putter, Right Hand, 34-Inch
Price: $39.95
2 used & new from $24.32

3.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable weighting and offset, and not for taller golfers., July 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unlike the similarly-priced Site 2 Putter (which I really liked), I had a hard time being impressed with this putter.

Does it feel okay? Yeah, I guess, but in the same way a putter feels "okay" at Putt Putt mini golf. I thought the weighting made it difficult to swing naturally, and the geometry made it difficult to get the lie angle right. I felt like I was almost contorting to get the toe of the head to stop sticking up, and then I had to contend with adjusting my swing to compensate for the weighting.

So, where the Site 2 was great for me, the Site 1 was totally wrong for me. And like the Site 2, the Site 1 suffers from the same awful squishy grip. And while I can usually get by with a 34" shaft at 6'1", this putter felt like it was just too short.


Pinemeadow Golf Site 2 Putter, Right Hand, 34-Inch
Pinemeadow Golf Site 2 Putter, Right Hand, 34-Inch
Price: $38.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome feel, nice accuracy, but there are downsides., July 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Years ago, I had a custom set of clubs made for me, and got everything but a putter. At the time, heavily used lower-end putters were going for about what this goes for new. Even today, I think you'd pay twice the price for a similar-quality putter at a "real" golf store.

I really love the weight of this putter, and that the angle is true, so I don't have to make weird adjustments just to use the darn thing.

The downsides: the grip is really, really cheap and squishy, and this model is only available in 34 inches. I realize that's the best "one size fits most" length, but if they made a 35" or 36" model, I'd cough up another star and have the grip changed out. It's really that good.


Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with 3M Antimicrobial Filter
Whynter 14,000 BTU Dual Hose Portable Air Conditioner with 3M Antimicrobial Filter
Price: $538.99
8 used & new from $389.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but buy a deflector!, July 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using a Delonghi Pinguino for some time, to keep my home office cool. With three computers and two disk arrays, the room gets uncomfortable in the summer, and the home A/C unit just can't keep up. It's okay, but the difference between that and this Whynter is like night and day.

They're both pretty easy to use, they both have basically the same functions, but Whynter undoubtedly makes the best freestanding A/C unit I've seen, outside of commercial units that start at over three grand.

I'm actually using this now to augment the central air in my house, and it's been wonderful... with one caveat. The top vent just kind of dribbles out cool air. If you put a wall vent deflector on it, the air will be channelled, and it improves the unit's performance tremendously.


Marley Coffee Blend, Smile Jamaica, 24 Count
Marley Coffee Blend, Smile Jamaica, 24 Count
Offered by Better than Outlet
Price: $18.99
5 used & new from $18.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 20% Jamaica Blue Mountain, 100% Awesome, July 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Smile Jamaica has quickly become one of my favorite blends, and this is coming from about five years of Keurig ownership, so that's saying something.

While advertised as Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, the blend only contains 20% JBM. Normally, I'd be annoyed that this costs a bit more, since it's only 20%, and for a few dollars more (on Subscribe and Save), you can get Talkin' Blues, which is 100% Jamaica Blue. Thing is: I have both, and I honestly prefer this.

Smile Jamaica is full-flavored without being overpowering. It gets along well with cream and sugar, and has an incredible aroma. Acidity is unbelievably low for a coffee with this much flavor, and the caffeine punch is just right.

The only drawback is that Marley Coffee won't pay licensing to Keurig for the K-Cup design, so these are RealCups. I've tried about seven different RealCup blends, and every one of them brews coffee that ends up with sediment if you don't drink your coffee fast enough. It doesn't bother me much, but it's worth pointing out.


Megared Omega 3 Krill Oil 300 mg Softgels, 90 Count
Megared Omega 3 Krill Oil 300 mg Softgels, 90 Count
Price: $26.91
11 used & new from $19.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Not completely odor-free, but still very good., July 11, 2014
My doctor has been suggesting fish oil to me for years, but it's seemed that every brand I tried made me feel sick. I'd get "fish burps", and an upset stomach for hours. Probably the worst was the fish oil capsules that had lemon, to mask the flavor and smell. Ugh.

I figured MegaRed was going to be my last-ditch effort, and so far, it's been mostly successful. Mostly...

For starters, anyone who tells you MegaRed has no odor is someone who has trouble smelling things. The gels absolutely reek whenever you open the bottle, and it's a weird chemical perfume smell that's very obviously there to mask the real odor of this product. That smell carries over with a really weird and gross sweetness for the couple of seconds it takes for me to down some water.

On an empty stomach, MegaRed still gives me burps, though, they aren't "scented" or "flavored", so that's a huge plus. And, other than a few minutes of burping, they don't leave my stomach feeling upset. That's more than I need to offset the weird odor and taste.


Spracht Conference Mate Portable NFC Enabled Bluetooth Conference Mate, Black
Spracht Conference Mate Portable NFC Enabled Bluetooth Conference Mate, Black
Price: $65.99
10 used & new from $57.49

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More for music than phone calls., July 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In a word: Yuck.

I spend a substantial portion of my day on conference calls, so I'm always on the lookout for devices like this, that keep me from holding my iPhone like it's an old Nextel device.

My very first impression from the box was that this seemed like it was a Hong Kong knockoff of a different product. There was something so unrefined about the packaging and documentation, that it stuck out like a sore thumb.

I immediately charged the speaker, and left it charging overnight. The next morning, I paired it to my iPhone 5s (which was pretty simple, because Spracht incorporated pairing as a physical setting on the on/off switch) and played some music. The sound was muddy, but not terrible. The included documentation suggested getting a DSP app by Bongiovi, which I did. It was a tremendous improvement, and I was pretty happy.

That is... until my first call. Spracht tuned this for bass-heavy music, and it isn't possible to adjust bass or treble levels. So, it left the first and subsequent calls sounding heavily distorted, and hollow. More upsetting, though, is that there seemed to be Bluetooth dropouts, despite the phone being literally next to the Conference Mate. Granted, the Bluetooth range on the 5s is abysmal, but I've never had a problem with it using UConnect or Sync in cars.

By the third call of the day, I was back to using the phone's speaker, because it was clearer.


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