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Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer, Gray
Omron Alvita Ultimate Pedometer, Gray
Price: $29.99
3 used & new from $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent...for step counters, April 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been a "walker" for the last 10 or 12 years. I started for health reasons, but it has become an essential part of my daily routine and now I find that I just don't feel right without a couple of miles every day on my Rockports.

Walkers come in two subspecies: step-counters and distance-speed trackers. I belong to the latter group. I've owned a couple of pedometers but my preference now is to use Google's MapMyWalk website to calculate my mileage. You just put down mouse clicks on a street or satellite map and Google accurately calculates the distance using its GPS data. If you've taken notice of your start and end times, you can figure out your speed.

The problem with accuracy when using devices like the Omron is twofold. First, it has to count your steps. This it does by sensing slight shifts in inertia as you walk. Some pedometers are more accurate than others at achieving this, but there is always some degree of error. Secondly, to compute total distance walked the device relies on its user to correctly tell it his or her stride length. If the value given is off by even a slight amount, the resultant mileage for a walk of several thousand steps can be misreported by a significant amount.

I have found that the best way to deal with both these difficulties is to calibrate the pedometer by "backing in" to the correct mileage. That is, walk a known distance. Measure it by using MapMyWalk or by driving the route with your car and using its odometer. Then convert that distance to inches and divide by the number of steps the pedometer says you took. Input that value as your stride length. I find that this approach will cause almost any pedometer to give a decent approximation of distance covered. The Alvita will predict your stride-length based on weight and height and I found that, for me, it was spot on with its guess, and no recalibration was necessary.

Ordinarily, with devices of this type, you need a very small Phillips' head screwdriver to insert or remove the battery. The Alvita has eliminated this requirement by securing its battery access cover with a small slide lock. I had no difficulties with the process. I had no problems with the belt clip or with the unit staying put. I inserted it into my belt at my side and that is where it remained. The instructions are not as clear as they could be, but you can decipher them with a little head-scratching--especially if this is not your first pedometer.

I had two problems with the Alvita. Firstly, the only way to reset will take the device to its factory settings, losing all your personalized data. If you do two walks in a day, they get added together--you can't do the first, reset, and do another walk. The second is that, though it calculates distance accurately and consistently, it does not report time spent walking or speed. For me, that means I must take notice of when I start and when I finish so that i can manually calculate my speed. Other pedometers I've owned do one or both for their owners. This limitation means I get no advantage over the above-mentioned MapMyWalk method. I make no star-deduction, since these shortcomings would not be objections for step-counters--clearly the target audience for the Alvista.


ACCO Rubber Band Ball, 275 Bands Per Ball, Assorted Colors, 1/Box (72155)
ACCO Rubber Band Ball, 275 Bands Per Ball, Assorted Colors, 1/Box (72155)
Price: $3.56
28 used & new from $1.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, March 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In addition to the uses for these that everyone is familiar with, I also use them to hold down light weight objects in the dishwasher--plastic items like storage containers and spatulas, metal mesh coffee filters, and so forth. Between water, heat and detergent, this is a kind of torture test for rubber bands and I have had others that lasted just a few washes before snapping. These are routinely going for 20 or more washes before giving up the ghost!

These appear to be good quality elastic bands, 1/8 inch wide and forming a circle about 2 inches in diameter when they are relaxed.

I see some reviewers are having them snap the first time they try to use them. I have not experienced that kind of failure with the bands that I have used thus far.

They are manufactured in Thailand by Acco which appears, based on the packaging, to be a US Company, and the package net weight is at least 5.6 ounces.


Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent, Power and Free, 12 Count
Finish Quantum Dishwasher Detergent, Power and Free, 12 Count

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, February 22, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Since moving to a new place with an old dishwasher about a year ago, I've been using Cascade powder detergent. About a month ago, Target had the Mega-Value size of Finish Powerball Tabs on sale at a price that made them competitive on a per wash basis with the Cascade powder, so I picked up one of those. I find them both excellent, and this product is just as good as either one.

Everything comes out clean, glassware is spot free and sparkling, nothing left stuck on dishes or pots, silverware clean. No residues were left in the dishwasher after the wash completed. The fragrance was pleasant but not excessive. I base my ratings on a product's performance, not its price which can change over time and, therefore have given these five stars. However, I have to say that, at a buck per wash load, I wouldn't buy these.


Dove Men + Care Deodorant, Fresh Awake Deo, 3 Ounce
Dove Men + Care Deodorant, Fresh Awake Deo, 3 Ounce
Price: $7.00
2 used & new from $7.00

3.0 out of 5 stars OK but..., February 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I tend to have problems with the skin under my arms when I use deodorants. I used to be able to use Degree Men's Deodorant, but about two years ago, they changed their packaging and, I think, their formula as well because now the Degree causes irritation for me. I switched to Dove Men+Care "Cool Silver" deodorant at that point, and have had no problems since.

Unfortunately, the "Fresh Awake" variety does cause irritation for me. It's not as bad as with some deodorants that I've used, but I do feel it and that's not the case with the Dove Men+Care "Cool Silver" deodorant mentioned above. The packaging says that it is "1/4 moisturizer," so it is definitely a different formula and, apparently, one that I'm sensitive to.

Be advised that this is a deodorant only. It contains no antiperspirant.


Homedics PDM-100 Hip and Pocket Pedometer
Homedics PDM-100 Hip and Pocket Pedometer
Offered by Givnitaway
Price: $12.45
11 used & new from $7.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, February 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been a "walker" for the last 10 or 12 years. I started as a way to help with weight management, but it has become an essential part of my daily routine and now I find that I just don't feel right without a mile or two every day on my Rockports. I've owned a couple of Pedometers but my preference now is to use Google's MapMyWalk website to calculate my mileage. You just put down mouse clicks on a street or satellite map and Google calculates the distance with its GPS data.

The problem with accuracy when using devices like the Homedics is twofold. First, it has to count your steps. This it does by sensing slight shifts in either body angle or inertia. Some pedometers are more accurate than others at achieving this, but there is always some degree of error. Secondly, the device relies on its user to correctly tell it his or her stride length. If the value given is off by even a slight amount, the resultant mileage for a walk of several thousand steps can be misreported by a significant amount.

I have found that the best way to deal with both these difficulties is to calibrate the pedometer by "backing in" to the correct mileage. That is, walk a known distance (at least a mile, I'd say--more is better). Measure it by using MapMyWalk or by driving the route with your car and using its odometer. Then convert that distance to inches and divide by the number of steps the pedometer says you took. Input that value as your stride length. I find that this approach will cause any pedometer to give a decent approximation of distance covered. When I did so after the first walk with this unit, I found that subsequent walks along different routes were reported with good accuracy (a tenth of a mile over a mile and a half).

You will need a very small Phillips' head screwdriver to insert or remove the battery. I had no difficulties with the process. I had no problems with the belt clip or with the unit staying put. I inserted it into my belt at my side and that is where it remained for several miles of walking. The instructions for setting and resetting the unit are clear and easily understood.


Moen CSI YG0818BN Arris 18-Inch Designer Grab Bar, Brushed Nickel
Moen CSI YG0818BN Arris 18-Inch Designer Grab Bar, Brushed Nickel
Price: $93.86
3 used & new from $93.86

4.0 out of 5 stars Good product, bad instructions, January 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very nice grab bar--strong and sturdy while still maintaining an attractive appearance. If you install it correctly, it could save you from a potentially disastrous bathroom fall.

Unfortunately, the instructions for making such an installation are not very good and I've deducted a star for that weakness. Moen has chosen to provide them in three different languages, but instead of giving you three different instruction sheets, they combine them all on one sheet causing a difficult to read jumble. The diagrams, which are critical for this type of project, are worse than useless and in fact are sometimes misleading.

Moen says that you must mount the grab bar so that it will be screwed into wood studs. They do not mention that they make a product for mounting their grab bars in situations where there are no convenient wall studs! I had to discover that on my own. It would have been nice had they made mention of this. It is the Moen SMA1005CH Home Care Securemount, Chrome and Amazon sells them. You Tube has a video that explains how they work and how to install them (just search for 'Moen Securemount' in the YT searchbox). They're pricey at about twenty bucks for the pair of them that you'll need, but they've been independently tested and will do the job safely.

If you're used to doing home improvement projects, then you're probably good to go with this and you'll be rewarded with a good looking and functional addition to your bathroom. If that shelf that you installed last month fell down with a crash two days later, this mightn't be a good choice.


AmazonBasics 7 Port USB 3.0 Hub with 12V/3A power adapter
AmazonBasics 7 Port USB 3.0 Hub with 12V/3A power adapter
Price: $34.99
10 used & new from $31.18

2.0 out of 5 stars Problems, December 25, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This seemed like a really nice little accessory. Seven ports, powered, attractive and a two-part power supply like you sometimes get on printers and laptops so you don't have to contend with a "wall wart"--great, right? Unfortunately, I didn't have much success using the thing.

The hub has two ports on the side and five along the back. The instructions state, "When powering a device that requires a lot of power, connect your USB device to one of the two USB ports on the right side of the hub." I found that whatever I plugged into those two "high power" ports worked great. Whatever I plugged into any of the other five ports did not. If I plugged my USB keyboard and the transmitter for my wireless mouse into those ports they worked, but an External HDD and WiFi dongle in the other ports did not. If I reversed them, I had the opposite problem!

I had the external power supply that comes with the unit in service, so that was not the culprit. I suspect that my problem was that all four of my USB devices "require a lot of power," but only the two ports on the side can deliver that. If this is a powered hub, that seems odd. Maybe the unit was defective and the ports along the back just didn't work. I don't know.

I've had good success with other AmazonBasics products. This one's poor performance surprised me.


Cascade Platinum Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent, Lemon Burst Scent, 23 Count
Cascade Platinum Actionpacs Dishwasher Detergent, Lemon Burst Scent, 23 Count
Offered by Lyon Valley
Price: $16.72
22 used & new from $6.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, December 25, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lately, I've gone "old school" and have been using Cascade powdered dishwashing detergent in my ancient GE dishwasher. These Platinum Actionpacs appear to do as good a job. My Cascade Powder will leave some peanut butter on the knife, but so do the Actionpacs. Dishes and pots were clean. Glasses had no spots. No residues were left in the dishwasher after the wash completed. The fragrance was pleasant but not excessive. I base my ratings on a product's performance, not its price which can change over time and, therefore have given these five stars.

The problem I have with them is: Why? How are these superior to the powder Cascade detergent I'm using? If they were no more expensive, than I could make a case that they are just a more convenient alternative. But the fact is, these cost significantly more per washload. If you find the tiny increase in convenience that they offer justifies the increased expense, then I guess they make sense, but I don't.


OXO Good Grips Box Grater
OXO Good Grips Box Grater
Price: Click here to see our price
22 used & new from $15.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, one small flaw, December 25, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own many OXO products--garlic press, shower caddy, kitchen tongs, can opener, cutting board, and on and on. What is apparent in all of their wares and what attracts me to them is that it's very clear that, when designing them, OXO looked at each of these common household items and asked, "How can we make this better than everyone else?"

This Box Grater is a perfect example of that philosophy. It has three different grating surfaces and a slicing surface, a comfortable, padded handle, a non-slip base so that when you place it on a cutting board it will stay put and it even comes with its own 1-cup attachable container that will catch and measure what you've grated. The container also has its own cover as well a non-slip base so that you don't lose that feature when it's positioned on the grater. It's a pleasure to use.

I have one small complaint. If Amazon allowed half-star deductions, I would use that here, but it isn't serious enough for a whole star. OXO has made the grater narrow enough so that it can be easily stored in a kitchen drawer. On one narrow face is the finest of the three graters and on the other is the slicer. The problem is that other than, perhaps, carrots or parsnips, there is very little you can slice with the slicer. Even a cucumber is too wide. Potatoes are out of the question. This, I think, was a design choice. The manufacturer wanted the product to be easy to store and, apparently, decided that the slicer was likely to be infrequently used anyway, so they compromised its functionality. Since this is first and foremost, a grater and not a mandoline, I can overlook it.


Charmin Basic Toilet Paper (10 Packs Of 4 Double Rolls)
Charmin Basic Toilet Paper (10 Packs Of 4 Double Rolls)
Price: $25.33
7 used & new from $16.24

4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good for "Basic", December 23, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I usually buy the Charmin "UltraSoft" Mega Rolls when I need TP. I like them for their efficacy as well as their economy. This "Basic" Charmin compares very favorably to its brand mate.

The Basic really is basic--no scents, no patterns, single ply. Yet, it's significantly better than the economy Target product I used to favor a few years ago. It's softer, stronger and at least as inexpensive. Those have got to be the primary criteria on which to rate this mundane but very necessary product. Each of these double rolls lasts about 60% as long as an Ultrasoft mega roll.

The box in which the 40 rolls are shipped is surprisingly small. I was expecting a Mastodon-sized container with "Charmin Basic Toilet Paper" emblazoned all over it, but was pleasantly surprised. The Charmin box is just 16"x21"x9". Your neighbors will think you got a new computer.

I think that when I use these up, I will go back to the UltraSoft. It isn't quite as economical, but the small price differential is outweighed by the luxury-feel of it. That said, I don't mind having these and would switch to them if the others were to become unavailable.


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