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Customer Reviews: 630
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Kevin Nicholls "jaded, aging hipster" RSS Feed (Milford, MI)
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NETGEAR AC3200 Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000)
NETGEAR AC3200 Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band WiFi Router (R8000)
Price: $299.99

5 of 8 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 Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 1:55 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 $27.79

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

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
6 used & new from $538.99

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: $27.33
10 used & new from $20.35

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
11 used & new from $57.49

0 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.


Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Double Desserts Playset
Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Double Desserts Playset
Price: $14.97
22 used & new from $11.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun for a nice price., July 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Obviously, this set is a great choice for kids who are in to pretend food, but one of the things that stood out to me, is how easy this set is to use for kids who might have difficulty with motor skills -- or who are just learning. Most of the Play-Doh toys we already have involve cranks of some sort, and a fair amount of strength (for a kid) to work. With this set, you just push to get the shapes, and the included tools are great for working on fine motor skills.

If I had to come up with a negative, it would be Play-Doh Plus. The consistency is really strange, and it's not nearly as forgiving as regular Play-Doh if it's left out of its container for too long.


Allen Sports Aluminum Folding 2-Bike Rack
Allen Sports Aluminum Folding 2-Bike Rack
Price: $60.79
17 used & new from $52.36

2.0 out of 5 stars If you care about your paint, glass, or bikes, look elsewhere., July 11, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never quite trusted the clamp-on style bike racks, but the last one I owned, I purchased nearly 15 years ago. So, I figured there had probably been some substantial advances in materials and design.

Unfortunately, I figured wrong. My biggest concern with this product (as I've seen with others) is the metal clamps. Unless you have them perfectly tight, they'll wiggle, wear down your clearcoat, and leave you with tiny rusty specks after a short while. Of course, when I said "perfect" that's what I meant... if you clamp these down too tight, you might distort the metal.

I tried this on a 2012 Subaru Outback (on the list of vehicles that are supposed to be compatible), and driving two bikes about as many miles to the nearest trail left me feeling a bit queasy. By design, this was partially resting against the liftgate glass, so I knew that it wouldn't take much to be out hundreds of dollars for a replacement if a stop was too abrupt, or a bump too hard. Who needs that kind of stress?

The straps seemed unreasonably long, and while it's possible to get two bikes on here, the amount of effort it takes to get them secure isn't substantially less than you'd put in to mounting your bikes to a decent roof rack -- which is probably your best bet.


Kindle FreeTime Kid-Proof Case for the Kindle Fire HDX , Blue
Kindle FreeTime Kid-Proof Case for the Kindle Fire HDX , Blue
Price: $19.99
3 used & new from $17.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kid-Proof? I don't think so., July 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In a nutshell: this isn't much more than a foam bumper. And while any Kindle Fire owner knows that the device itself is very resilient, when I see the term "Kid-Proof", I'd expect OtterBox Defender grade durability. Does it cost twice as much? Sure. Is it legitimately "Kid-Proof"? As close as you'll get. This case just doesn't cut it.

If your young child has a hard time holding the Fire, or if you're concerned about drops (assuming you're positive it'll never land on the display), I guess this is fine.


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