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Customer Reviews: 593
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Helpful Votes: 7135

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Reviews Written by
Kevin Nicholls "jaded, aging hipster" RSS Feed (Milford, MI)

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Samsung Galaxy S5, White 16GB (AT&T)
Samsung Galaxy S5, White 16GB (AT&T)
Price: $699.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of benefits. Lots of shortcomings. Still a great device., April 16, 2014
I'm a self-admitted phone nut, and I've carried around a Nexus 4, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Active, HTC One, HTC One M8, and iPhone 5S over the past year. I don't have a very strong allegiance to operating system or brand. So, without lots of conjecture:

Things the Galaxy S5 Does Well:
*It feels nice in the hand. Not quite as natural as smaller devices, but less slippery and heavy than the HTC One M8.
*The "one hand mode" is a brilliant idea. Swipe side-center-side, and the active portion of the display shifts to that size at the same size as the iPhone 5S (a coincidence, I'm sure!). I can't express how wonderful this feature is on a device this size.
*The fingerprint scanner is fast and reasonably accurate.
*Sound quality from the speaker is decent. The personalized audio enhancement, on the other hand, is truly impressive.
*USB 3.0 is speedy when transferring files, and charges the device incredibly fast.
*The display -- while not professionally accurate -- is beautiful.
*Build quality is excellent. There's no creaking or flexing here.
*Bluetooth audio on voice calls and music is probably the best I've experienced.

Things the Galaxy S5 Does Acceptably:
*The camera quality is decent, but macro photos are exceedingly difficult to take, and taking a picture of something lit (a sign, LED/LCD panel, et cetera) causes the focus to go nuts.
*Micro/Mini USB cables aren't going to work with the USB 3.0 interface, but it uses a standard USB 3.0 cable.
*TouchWiz is dramatically improved, but after a few hours, I went back to Nova Launcher. (Seriously, Samsung... I don't understand why you think the sanctity of your product is violated by my desire to move the Applications button from the right to the center.)

Things the Galaxy S6 Can Improve On:
*While the camera quality is decent, it doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone 5S in terms of convenience.
*The plastic feels nice, but it's still plastic. It's time to use better materials.
*It's at the very edge of what you could use with one hand. Yes, I get "Bigger phones are the trend!" So were Walkmans.
*As heavily as Samsung wants enterprise clients moving to their devices, they've continually overlooked simple features, like a physical "silent mode" button.
*To date, the AT&T version of this phone has a locked bootloader, which seriously limits your ability to customize the phone.
*The current implementation of fingerprint scanning isn't acting as a surrogate for a PIN or password (as it does on the iPhone 5S). This means that if you're connecting this to an Exchange server, and the admin hasn't enabled biometrics in the security policy, you'll be forced to use a PIN to unlock the phone.

So, is it better than the HTC One M8? Maybe. Personally, I like the way it feels, and how the current iteration of TouchWiz is closer to the stock Google Play Edition. And again, the "one hand mode" is a godsend. On the other hand, the M8 looks every bit as expensive as it costs.

Personally, I matched my S5 with a Galaxy Gear Neo, and they're great together. If you're willing to buy in to Samsung's ecosystem, the choice is much simpler.

ERA by Jawbone Bluetooth Headset with Charge Case - Black Streak - Retail Packaging
ERA by Jawbone Bluetooth Headset with Charge Case - Black Streak - Retail Packaging
Price: $123.98
40 used & new from $95.81

3.0 out of 5 stars Lightning hasn't struck twice., April 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since the original cheesegrater-styled Jawbone, I've dutifully upgraded when a new product hits the shelves. Each time, I hope that there's something that truly leapfrogs the original. Each time, I'm left wanting. This time, too.

The ERA brings some interesting features, like the charging case that doubles the battery life. On the other hand, it's just something extra that you have to carry around.

The earpiece fit is reminiscent of Jabra eargels from the late 90's, but didn't feel nearly as comfortable. This contributed to disappointing sound quality on incoming calls. Microphone sound quality was another disappointment, with people noting that the sound itself was clear, but not loud enough.

All things being equal, if I was in the market for another headset, and my heart was set on Jawbone, I'd consider the ICON HD as a cheaper and better (albeit, with no spare battery pack) alternative.

Samsung Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch - Black
Samsung Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch - Black
Price: $199.00
6 used & new from $198.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look at me! I'm Dick Tracy!, April 16, 2014
I've been interested in horology since I was a kid with my calculator watch, circa 1985. Years later, I moved to a Timex Data Link (no, not the USB ones, the one with an optical sensor that got data from a series of VGA lines when you pointed it at a monitor), I did the "wear your iPod Shuffle as a watch!" thing, all the way to the latest Pebble.

They were all fun and functional, but they were also really nerdy. The Gear 2 Neo changes things.

It's difficult to tell in pictures, but the Gear 2 Neo is surprisingly well made, with smooth edges, a light rubberized texture, and a metallic bezel, all of which combine for a look and feel that matches the reasonable price.

The only real negative here is that I found the band to be overly snug on my (admittedly, larger than average) wrist. Fortunately, the band can be replaced with any 22mm band. So if you want a metal band or extra long band, you've got options.

As for functionality, I have to say that I'm mostly impressed. It's actually usable as a Dick Tracy-style wrist communicator, and the sound quality is surprisingly decent. Being able to see alerts and text messages is great, but one big advantage in the Galaxy Gear line isn't what it alerts you to, but what it doesn't. Unlike the Pebble (in its current software iteration), you can get quite granular with what makes it from the phone to your watch. So, I'm not getting bombarded with e-mail or Facebook updates that I don't really care about.

The included apps are generally okay. On one hand, there's the pulse monitoring app, which is definitely handy for workouts. On the other hand, there's the TV/STB remote, which wasn't able to do anything with my Comcast cable box. The pedometer isn't terribly accurate, but Find My Device is exceedingly cool and useful. Other things aren't quite as intuitive as they could be. For instance, "Music Player" only works with music that you have stored on your Gear 2 Neo, but you need to use Media Controller to play / pause / skip on your Galaxy device. They should be in the same app, and allow you to switch between devices, in my humble opinion.

All things considered, is it a "must have"? No. Not at all. But if you're interested in wearable technology that doesn't scream "LOOK AT ME!", or like the idea of keeping ever-larger devices stowed, you get a lot for what the Gear 2 Neo costs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 16, 2014 9:31 PM PDT

AmazonBasics 17-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
AmazonBasics 17-Sheet Cross-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
Price: $99.99
2 used & new from $85.13

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best shredder I've owned., March 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I generally trust AmazonBasics products, and originally opted for the 8-sheet microcut shredder. Upon receiving it, though, it seemed really underpowered, and the side-load slot was infuriating. I stumbled on this, and thought I'd give it a shot.

Right off the bat, the ergonomics are WONDERFUL for a home shredder! You don't have to bend very far to use it, because it's much taller than most home shredders. It's probably 2/3 the height of a typical kitchen trash can. And the top-load slot is designed in such a way that you don't have to have your papers or envelopes stacked in any special way. The only room for improvement here would be another sensor or two for smaller paper.

And while the first shredder I bought struggled to meet half of its rated capacity, this shredder tears through thick folded junk mail quite easily.

True, it's not a micro-cut, but the shreds are small enough that unless you're someone really important, nobody's going to go through the painstaking process of assembling them to recreate a credit card application.

Disney Planes Action Shifters Flight to the Finish Speedway
Disney Planes Action Shifters Flight to the Finish Speedway
Price: $19.84
16 used & new from $19.84

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly decent., March 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My daughter adores all things Pixar, so that puts me on the hook for Toy Story, Cars, and Planes toys. And while most of those toys have been complete trash, this one is surprisingly well thought-out.

Assembly only took a couple of minutes, though if I was putting it together again, I'd do the decals first.

The blue track isn't brittle, so it won't break easily if there's an accident, and the harnesses glide across the track with a certain degree of precision.

The only real downside, is that there didn't seem to be much thought given to leverage. If you're looking at the photo, the red stick on the left gets pulled toward you, which causes the yellow arm to smack the harness that a plane is attached to. On the opposite side, there's what looks like a grey piece of plastic. That's (supposedly) intended to be used with a book or other heavy object. In practice, not so much.

So, would I get this for a younger Planes fan? Sure. For anyone else, though, it's kind of like a big interactive Penguin Race.

Philips Norelco BT9285/41 9100 Beard Trimmer
Philips Norelco BT9285/41 9100 Beard Trimmer
Price: $89.97
5 used & new from $89.97

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming, to say the least., March 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Maybe I'm showing my age, but I've been begging for Philips/Norelco to go back to their T-series, where the guard was high quality, the length clicks were meaningful, and there weren't gimmicks to add bulk to the size.

Sadly, Philips/Norelco continues to disappoint. This time around, the product is so cheesy, they should be ashamed of themselves.

The box touts the "LED display" which is literally an LED behind a plastic wheel with numbers that have an LCD font. The numbers allegedly represent length in millimeters, but that seems to translate to "short beard", "very short beard", "are you growing a beard?", and 14 more settings of stubble. It's really more of a stubble styler, for stubble length savants. More disappointing though, is that the finished length is nothing approaching consistent.

The guard is the same cheap plastic that Philips/Norelco has been using for years, so you can count on it losing a tooth or two before your warranty is up.

And then there's the laser. I'm genuinely puzzled by what purpose it's supposed to serve, other than verifying that you've made jagged edges. Because it moves along with the trimmer, and only makes a single straight line, you're probably better off using it to set your lines, draw them in with your significant other's eyeliner (or dry-erase marker, as the case may be) and then use those lines as your guide.

Overall, the build quality of everything below the blade is unimpressive, the "features" are just plain silly, and the price is totally unjustified.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2014 6:49 PM PDT

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket
Price: $69.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not too tough, and annoying to load., March 13, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Somehow, after years of different tax-time promotions, our house had four shredders. Over time, we accidentally gave them all away, because... well... who needs four shredders?

We did need one, though. Since I've had really outstanding luck with AmazonBasics cables, so it was really a debate between the cheaper AmazonBasics cross-cut shredder or spending a little more on this one. This seemed to be the more "serious" of the two, so I checked out, and waited to make some confetti.

Assembly was straightforward, and the instructions were only necessary to figure out where the two locking casters were supposed to go.

I put in a sheet of paper, and it was dutifully reduced to confetti. Much nicer than the strip shredders I had before, and now, there's no way someone's going to be able to go through my garbage and reconstruct my shameful collection of Starbucks receipts. I was impressed.

Then I started shredding things that had been piling up, and noticed very quickly that this shredder is kind of wimpy. At about four pages, it starts making some really sad noises. And when I tried some credit card junk mail, it totally choked -- leaving me to think "Gee, even those free shredders were able to tell Citibank 'no thanks'." Speaking of credit cards, I happened to have one that expired last month, and gave that a shot. On one hand, the card has been totally obliterated, thanks to this shredder. On the other, it seemed like such a chore for the poor machine, I almost felt bad.

The real pain, though, is the slot. If your documents aren't pristine and flat, set a little time aside to get them to go in to the very awkward slot. If you're okay with sitting down and feeding this sheet-by-sheet, you should be fine. Otherwise, this is a pain to use.

Ultimately, I decided to send it back, and give the 17-page AmazonBasics cross-cut shredder a try. Yes, I know it's not micro-cut, but an owner says it cuts about 1 1/4 x 1/4", which realistically, I think is enough to thwart anyone inclined to go through my garbage. With a top-loading slot and twice the rated capacity, it seemed worth the extra money.

4 Pack Ink Cartridges for Epson Stylus NX330, NX430, WorkForce 435, 520, 545, 630, 633, 635, 645, 840, 845, 60 (T126 - BK, C, M, Y)
4 Pack Ink Cartridges for Epson Stylus NX330, NX430, WorkForce 435, 520, 545, 630, 633, 635, 645, 840, 845, 60 (T126 - BK, C, M, Y)
Offered by US Ink Express
Price: $12.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Cheap and easy, just the way I like 'em., March 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was done investing in genuine Epson cartridges in my aging Workforce 840, and thought I'd give these a shot.

My experience with third-party cartridges has been pretty hit-or-miss, so my expectations weren't high. However, the cartridges worked just like the genuine ones. No recognition problems, and they seemed to last just as long. Print quality appeared the same, too.

The only downside is that I thought these were a bit expensive for knockoffs.

Vornado AC300 True HEPA Air Purifier
Vornado AC300 True HEPA Air Purifier
Offered by ABDeal
Price: $99.99
28 used & new from $85.84

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive power, and not too noisy., March 12, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using the Honeywell Long-Life Pure HEPA QuietCare Air Purifier, 17000 in my daughter's bedroom for over five years now, and it's been wonderful. So, the bar was set quite high for an air purifier for my bedroom. Since the Honeywell 17000 is similarly-priced and designed for a similarly-sized room, I'll use it as a basis for comparison in this review.

Within two days, I was really impressed by the amount of dust I saw in the carbon pre-filter. I have dogs, so I expected to see some dog hair, but I was really surprised to find so much other debris.

In terms of noise, both air filters produce about the same consistent white noise at each of their three respective levels. So similar, that I put them side-by-side to see if I could get them to sound different. I'm not totally convinced that they aren't using the same motor with different orientation. Personally, I love the noise, because it helps me sleep. If you need silence, you're going to want to turn it off at bedtime.

The front panel on the Vornado is magnetized, and slides off easily. For safety, the motor cuts off if the front panel is ajar. Once removed, the carbon pre-filter sits atop the HEPA filter, and is retained by an easily-removed plastic cage. By comparison, the Honeywell has a side panel that's retained by a large bolt. It's definitely harder for kids to get in to the Honeywell, but at the same time, replacing the Honeywell pre-filter requires you to remove the HEPA filter, tear the new filter to size (they stopped making model-specific filters years ago), wrap it around the HEPA filter, secure it with Velcro, put it back, and bolt the side panel back on.

Sounds kind of like the Vornado has the advantage there, but consider this: at the time of this writing, Amazon sells the Honeywell Universal Carbon Air Purifier Replacement-Filter, HRF-AP1 / Filter (A) for almost 40% less than the Vornado MD1-0023 Replacement Carbon Filters (2-Pack). You can make two filters out of the media that comes with the Honeywell kit -- but if you're particularly frugal, you can very easily make five filters out of every two boxes. Since you're going to be replacing these pre-filters every two months on either model, that can add up.

Sounds like Honeywell might be the way to go, huh? Well... consider this: at the time of this writing, replacing the Honeywell's HEPA filter requires building a new filter out of two Honeywell Universal 14" Air Purifier Replacement HEPA filters. That costs almost twice as much as the Vornado MD1-0022 Replacement True HEPA Filter. Of course, your environment will dictate how often you actually need to replace the HEPA filter.

So... which would I buy? Honestly, I think I'd buy the Vornado. I prefer the styling and orientation of the air intake. I also like that it's easier to change the filters, despite the fact that that convenience comes at a small premium. However, if I wanted an excellent filter with the smallest maintenance cost, the Honeywell 17000 is a very solid contender.

Thermaltake Mobile Fan II External USB Cooling Fan - Us
Thermaltake Mobile Fan II External USB Cooling Fan - Us
Price: $13.48
61 used & new from $8.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Cheap way to improve airflow anywhere., March 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought my first one back in 2008, It's been on 24/7/365 for all these years, and the only problem is that it's dusty. So, when I decided to improve the airflow around my PS4, getting this was a no-brainer.

I've had one on my amplifier, one on my satellite receiver, and one on my Xbox 360 for years, and none of them have so much as buzzed. For the price, that's pretty great quality.

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