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Customer Reviews: 493
Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,273
Helpful Votes: 4678

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Derek G RSS Feed ('Murica)

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Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (L5V-00001)
Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop (L5V-00001)
Offered by Pavilion Electronics
Price: $89.99
82 used & new from $69.94

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great keyboard, not-so-great mouse, awful driver software, September 24, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I still have the original Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro from somewhere back in the 90's and to this day it still works. I forget the actual year it was made but it was back they were making keyboards in Mexico instead of China. Since they've gone to China I've had bad experiences with their keyboards. I had a "Wireless Laser Desktop 6000" keyboard that simply didn't work and even with the receiver pointed straight at me it would skip keys I typed. Apparently the "laser" didn't have enough pew-pew. I then tried to get a wired Microsoft Natural 4000 and the space bar kept sticking so I gave up on Microsoft and went to Logitech instead.

Still, I missed that awesome split-keyboard shape and I'm glad Microsoft has once again brought it back. The keyboard is light with keys that are not as tall as your standard keyboard. My best guess is halfway between the size of standard keyboards and laptop keyboards. It types great, not as good as mechanical keyboards, but as nice as you will get out of membrane keyboards. You will have an adjustment period if you are used to typing on standard keyboards but your wrists will soon thank you when you are able to separate them instead of squishing them next to one another for typing.

The keyboard is not as wide as regular keyboards because they've made the interesting decision to separate the 10-key. That works out nicely since most deskmakers are stuck in the last century with keyboard trays that barely fit modern-day keyboards much less a mouse pad. With this, you can manipulate both the keyboard and the mouse from the the keyboard tray and lower your arms to a more reasonable level (and avoid the shoulder pain). In order to accomplish this, Microsoft needed to make some changes to the DEL-INS-HOME-END-PGUP-PGDN keys. The ever popular delete key is given a large key the size of your backspace and rests directly next to the backspace while the rest of the keys line up vertically next to it. Gamers need not worry as the popular arrow keys are still in the 1 above/3 below configuration instead of the awful plus sign Microsoft was using for a while. Finally, there is a small "function" switch on the top-right of the keyboard that allows you to quickly switch your F-keys into popular commands like media and sound volume adjustments, a search button, and others. Unfortunately, I cannot access them due to problems I will explain later.

As for the mouse, this is a wonderful example of form over function. A big round ball shaped mouse that fits horribly in the hand and is uncomfortable to use. The palm of your hand falls off the end and you'll find yourself mousing inaccurately with your palm instead of your hand. Oh, and for buttons? The only button you have is the most useless of all buttons, the windows "interrupt anything you're currently doing" key and they won't let you reprogram it. Just looking at it makes me mad. This things is so useless that I was not going to recommend this product at all but I found that I can shut the mouse off and use the keyboard side by side with a competing mouse. So far I have run into no issues or conflicts.

And now the drivers, how do I hate thee? All I can say is your experience might vary but I absolutely cannot install these drivers without being greeted with a "software has crashed" error message upon every reboot. Sometimes I can actually get the software working even while it gives me crash errors. So I can't evaluate the drivers at all because I absolutely cannot get them to work even though I've taken pains to remove all previous keyboard and mouse software from my computer before installing these. Fortunately, I can get the keyboard to work using "standard" keyboard drivers but don't expect any features, assuming there were any in the first place. Nice job Microsoft.

The keyboard uses 2-AAA batteries, the mouse uses 2-AA batteries, and the 10-key uses a CR2430 watch battery. The battery covers are easily removed thanks to a slightly magnetic cover that easily pops off. A nice improvement over standard battery covers. For some reason they didn't do this to the 10-key. You'll need a flathead screwdriver to remove the cover on it. In the month I've used the keyboard I haven't had to replace the batteries. Unfortunately, there is no indicator telling me when they will soon need to be changed.

To summarize, nice keyboard. Horrible everything else. Decide for yourself whether the price is worth it. Personally, I'd skip the desktop and get just the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business (5KV-00001) instead. Meanwhile, I'll wait for the day when Microsoft releases a mechanical keyboard in this split-keyboard shape along with some drivers that work.

AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries (8-Pack) Pre-charged
AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries (8-Pack) Pre-charged
Price: $18.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The Sanyo Eneloops now have competition!, September 5, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These AmazonBasics brand batteries appear to be a lower-priced competitor to the Sanyo Eneloop 2000 mAh rechargeable batteries in the blue/green packaging. Sanyo has released a higher capacity version called Eneloop XX 2500mAh but those are much more expensive so let's compare the AmazonBasics batteries to the standard Eneloops.

Both claim to hold 2000mAh of charge and my results seem to indicate both the standard Eneloop and the AmazonBasics reflect this. While I don't have professional testing equipment, I do have a Logitech G700s Wireless Mouse that eats through a single AA battery each day. Over the past month, I've changed both brands with the same relative frequency.

One glaring difference, however is the number of cycles available (I believe this is tech speak for the number of times you can recharge the batteries and continue to get a full power charge.) Eneloop claims their batteries last 1500 cycles while Amazon claims their batteries last only 1000 cycles. If true, that means the competition lasts 50% longer. Because of this, I deducted a star. Of course the proof will be in real world testing which I will not be able to provide (at least not in a timely manner.) To test even my battery gobbling G700s for 1500 cycles of the Eneloop vs. AmazonBasics it would take 3000 days or nearly 9 years to get to the point where I could compare the capacity of the two brands. I expect we'll be manipulating holograms by then.

Have I sold you on these kinds batteries yet? Low self-discharge batteries should be in every device by now. Compared to alkalines or even cheapo dollar-store batteries, these will pay for themselves many times over.

I did notice the standard charger that comes with the Eneloops has an output of 300mA vs. the AmazonBasics Charger at 250mA. Whether that is enough difference to affect the life of these batteries I do not know. So far these batteries are charging fine with the Eneloop Charger but I hope to get a higher quality charger like the La Crosse Technology BC-700 or La Crosse Technology BC1000 soon.

Either brand is a fine replacement of regular non-rechargeable batteries. All things equal, I would still give the edge to the Sanyo Eneloops. If Amazon sells these for a decent discount I would probably purchase these instead. Frankly, it's more likely I'll lose these batteries before they ever run out of juice.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works great!, September 1, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have no problems with this switch. I ran a single CAT5 line from the office to the television and use this switch to direct the Internet traffic to the Blu-Ray for YouTube & Netflix or to Onlive (an online streaming game service.) I also have a Wii I could connect in the future if I wanted to buy something online. In the past I used a "green" router but would occasionally have problems with recognizing active connections for reasons I'm not sure of. So far I have had no problems with this switch. Recommended!

SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Headset for Gaming and Music
SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Headset for Gaming and Music
Offered by BinkieMelane
3 used & new from $86.95

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible headphones with terrible sound, August 22, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I confess I use full sized headphones. I would consider using earphones if it were possible to hear a full range of sound but what's coming through these speakers are awful. They sound as bad as cheap no-name headphones. I believe there are two reasons for this.

First, if you pull off the foam tips, you can see that all of the sound appears to be produced outside the ear and through a tiny tube that the foam tip wraps around. Frankly, the headphones sound exactly like the way they are designed, like someone is playing music through a tube of PVC pipe. There is no bass at all and very little treble either. What's left just sounds awful.

Secondly, the tips. These little foam tips are hollow which is a strange decision because every time you move around it moves around and scrapes the hollow edges of the tips every time you move. Before someone jumps in with a comment, yes I did try multiple eardrums and followed the instructions but this noise happens by design and the sound resembles something scraping against your eardrum. Forget jogging or even walking with these. You'll be forcing yourself to stay still just to keep the noise from interrupting what you are listening to.

I tried to think of a reason why I would give this two stars but I couldn't come up with one. For the price they're asking, these headphones are a joke.

Sacred 2 Gold [Download]
Sacred 2 Gold [Download]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hack n Slash fun bogged down by repetitive tasks, August 19, 2013
What I Like:
1) The game is a giant lootfest. It's like playing a slot machine that always pays out because nearly every character drops loot.
2) Lots of ways to customize your character. Weapons, Armor, Skills, Spells, Runes, Stats, and Buffs allow you to play the way you want.
3) Variety in weapons and gear. Lots of ways to enhance your character, it's more than just picking the most expensive gear.
4) You're able to call a "portable" storage box when you need to offload some gear.
5) You can see all of the armor and weapons you have equipped on the title screen at the beginning and end of the game.
6) The map is huge. After 20 hours I've only made a small dent in the map.

What I Don't Like:
1) The camera, the horrible, horrible camera. I had to shut it off because its terrible at following your character so now I adjust the camera manually.
2) Very little visibility to what is in front of you. Your third-person character is positioned toward the top end of the screen with very little to see.
3) Repetitive and annoying battles. Just get done killing a wolf, here's another 5 seconds later, and another one. Takes a long time to progress and it's not fun.
4) Multiplayer servers are down.
5) The most menial side quests I have ever seen in an RPG. "Deliver this letter...", "Go kill 10 bandits...", etc. When I was told to go find a book for a guard because he was on duty I just shut off the game at that point.

I can almost deal with these negatives but the issue that causes the most frustration is the map markers. When you get a quest a map marker shows up on your map... except that's not where the quest begins, it's where the quest ends. For instance, someone tells you to go into a cave and kill something. The map marker shows it's right smack in the middle of a range of mountains. So you spend half an hour on the south side of the range trying to find a dungeon entrance and nothing is there. So you have to spend another half hour backtracking, fighting trash mobs that interrupt you every few seconds along the way, to get to the north side of the range of mountains where hopefully the dungeon entrance will be. At this point the game no longer becomes fun as it seems like it is fighting your ability to have fun. They really messed up in this area.

I gave it the college try. I put about 25 hours in and got a high elf pyromancer up to level 18 but the monotony of the fetch quests was killing me. There was a really fun quest involving finding instruments for the band "Blind Guardian" but there were too few of those quests and too many boring quests. I couldn't figure out a way to abandon quests either as the in-game tutorial was rather basic and the only pdf instruction manual I received was for "Fallen Angel". After a while the quests began to stack up. It's not a terrible game as long as you don't mind the grind but don't say I didn't warn you when you become the world's errand boy.

AVIRA Internet Security 2013 - 3Users
AVIRA Internet Security 2013 - 3Users

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I do not recommend this product to anyone!, August 10, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In short:
- It's a so-called Internet Security program that installs malware (!)
- Installs this malware even if you tell it not to do so during installation
- Has no way to whitelist false detections so you are forced to remove legitimate programs
- Submitting these false positives is impossible as it generates error messages
- Customer service is terrible
- Has to interrupt what you're doing with popups when it scans your computer

The long version:
The installation disc gives you the choice of installing the version on disc or the newest version via an online connection, which was nice. I selected online and while the download speed was limited to 400-450kB/sec it eventually downloaded and started the installation process. There is an option to try the product for 30 days before purchasing but it requires you to enter your name and email address and will bug you to purchase multiple times throughout the day. Whether or not you enter your registration key, it will ask you to install the toolbar. This toolbar provides no use to you and will take up and entire row of your browser and change the home page of your browser. The so-called Safesearch feature only means you are searching through the askjeeves browser which gives inferior results compared to Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Because it is up to you to uncheck the options to change all these things it is commonly considered malware in security circles. Why I consider it malware is simple -- even if you uncheck the options to install the toolbar, Avira will install it anyway!

In addition, the program gave me a false positive on a legitimate game I play that is published by a respectable game company. For the purposes of this review, I uploaded it to VirScan to confirm it was safe. For anyone unfamiliar with the site, it allows you to upload a suspicious file and it will analyze it among 36 different antivirus programs and show you the results. Of the many different antivirus companies, some did mark it as a virus (mostly brands I never heard of), but the majority of antivirus scanning companies marked it as safe.

False positives happen and I don't fault Avira for a false positive. What I do fault Avira for is providing no way for us to mark the file as safe. You are either forced to quarantine the file so you can no longer use it, or it will bug you incessantly about this virus. In addition, the option to submit this quarantined file to Avira is completely broken. You have to fill out a bunch of information (which it will not remember so you have to complete it over and over) and during the number of days and times I tried to submit this file to Avira, all I received was an "Error 12002" message.

I also use Gmail and download my email messages through Mozilla Thunderbird. Apparently this is incompatible with Avira's "Mail Protector" as all the program does is hang up my computer when I set up my POP addresses to route through Avira. Since it doesn't work, I decided to turn off the "Mail Protector feature" but doing so would cause Avira to go into "your computer is unsafe" mode.

In addition, I sometimes received "Application Errorsin avcenter.exe" messages which caused the program to be closed. This is part of Avira's software but when I checked the software by clicking on the system tray icon, it loaded up as if nothing was wrong.

And finally, the so-called technical support. After waiting on hold for fifteen minutes, I connect to someone who sounds like he's busy doing something else while talking to me. He puts me on hold all the time for no apparent reason and it's clear while talking to him that he doesn't even have an Avira client open. All I asked for was to double check if there was a way to whitelist suspicious files and after a while I was instructing him where to go and what to do because he was just guessing. By the time he started messing with WINSOCK (again, incorrectly) I told him I'm going to uninstall instead. He just hung up on me. What a jerk that guy was.

So no, I don't recommend Avira to anyone... except maybe to the guy who provides really awful tech support.

Edit 8/14 - Since I had no way to submit the false positive to Avira, I sent it to a competing Internet Security product who also showed it being a possible virus. They wrote me back and said the file was clean and they would remove the detection in their next update. Too bad I couldn't get this kind of service from Avira.

Baxter of California Super Close Shave Formula, 8 fl. oz.
Baxter of California Super Close Shave Formula, 8 fl. oz.
Price: $17.80
4 used & new from $17.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent but expensive shaving lotion, July 18, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Instead of a common foam or gel foam, this product goes on your face as if you were wiping it with a cream or lotion. Others have mentioned the minty scent but I found it very light and unobtrusive. It did okay for a regular maintenance shave but I found it struggled as a "beard-buster" when I let my facial hair grow out a bit.

The problem I have with this product is the price. I used a layer off the top with each shave meaning my rough estimates put this jar at about 20 shaves, maybe 30 at the most? (I'll update once I finish the product.) Marketing aside, that seems like a really high price for a month's worth of shaves that a five dollar can of Edge Gel could beat with similar results.

Personally, I use American Crew's Herbal Shave Cream (which may be different than their Moisturizing Shave Cream or as I haven't tried it yet.) You may be surprised that at 5.1 ounces it's an even smaller bottle than Baxters, but you'll get more shaves out of it as a small dab on two fingers is enough to cover your entire face. For a small bottle, it lasts you a surprisingly long time and the razor glides easily over the face for no-nick shaves.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 [Download]
Test Drive Unlimited 2 [Download]
Price: $19.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars So I bought a different monitor..., July 11, 2013
... and it was 1920x1080 resolution instead of my old monitor that was 1920x1200 resolution. I played TDU2 in the past but I didn't enjoy it much. Still, it was sitting on my hard drive so I decided to give it another chance. It gave me an "unsupported resolution" error. Okay, so look for the so-called Setup file... there is none. Out of that massive download, (the latest update alone required 2GB), there is no setup or configuration file? I send a message to Atari asking for help. Their response, and I am not joking, is to uninstall the program completely and download it over again... just to change the monitor resolution. I uninstalled it. The servers were down anyway.

Moen TS448-9000 Felicity Two-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet with Valve, Chrome
Moen TS448-9000 Felicity Two-Handle High Arc Bathroom Faucet with Valve, Chrome
Offered by JWIM LLC
Price: $358.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great faucet! Nice warranty too., June 20, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Very bold geometric shapes to this faucet. The pictures are inaccurate about the color and shine, though. It's closer to a classic car bumper chrome than the matte finish you see here. I wish the instructions were a little more detailed. The over the sink instructions were adequate but the below sink instructions combined a lot of tiny parts simultaneously in the picture-based instructions. In another picture, I needed to leave 1/4" gap in a part but it wasn't explained where or why. In the effort to cater to multiple languages, the picture only instructions made this first timer confused. Written explanations accompanying each picture would have made things a lot easier. Fortunately, phone help is available 8-8 EST on weekdays and 8-6:30 EST on Saturdays. Make sure you have the part number handy.

The warranty is lifetime and Moen claims free part replacements. Will they really keep a stock of parts for decades-old models? Time will tell, I guess. If you sell the house, the warranty is transferable, but for five years only. That said, they won't cover "abuse" such as abrasive or other solvents that damage the finish.

Logitech G700s 910-003584 Rechargeable Gaming Mouse
Logitech G700s 910-003584 Rechargeable Gaming Mouse
Price: $49.99
91 used & new from $42.16

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid ergonomic mouse with good software but you'll need batteries, June 20, 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I first fell in love with Logitech products when I put my hands on their MX1000. It was the only time I paid full retail price for a mouse. As soon as I put my hand on it I knew I had to have it. After that died, it was replaced by the stalwart MX Revolution which still works to this day (although their so-called "unifying" software won't support it.) *shakes fist* The reason why I preface this is because many gamers have used a MX Revolution at some point and the G700s seems to be an evolution of the popular mouse.

Like the MX, the G700s has that molded to the hand feel. If you're a palm gripper like me, it feels like the kind of mouse you can rest your entire hand on. Supposedly, the material allows you to wick sweat away from your palms while gaming. That doesn't happen to me so I can't test the validity. The top of the mouse feels like smooth metal but the sides took a little getting used to. It's a rough texture that frequently made me wonder if the mouse was dirty. It takes a little getting used to.

The mouse wheel can be smooth scrolling or click scrolling as determined by the button directly behind the wheel. This brings up a gripe about button placement. You see the button selector sticks up high enough that it's difficult to reach the other button behind it. You will likely never use it or use it for "non-critical" things. Personally I have it mapped to check the battery level; a nice feature that lights up one to three arrows depending on the amount of juice left in your mouse.

Speaking of batteries, you're going to need a few spares. It comes with a single AA Eneloop rechargeable battery. I am grateful that Logitech isn't playing the "irreplaceable battery" game like other manufacturers. At the same time, you will either need to be very diligent about attaching the USB cable after a session or you will need to have some spares as the battery lasts little more than a day of gaming. For me, this isn't an issue because I've already jumped on the rechargeable battery bandwagon and I have a drawer full of spare eneloops. If you don't have them, consider purchasing something like this eneloop 4 Pack AA, Ni-MH Pre-Charged Rechargeable Batteries with 4 Position Charger and it will save you a lot of headaches.

On to button placement. The side of the mouse has four buttons that are easily distinguished by your thumb as the top two stick out slightly farther than the bottom two. The three buttons on the top-left of the mouse I'm not as impressed with. They are formed in a concave shaped that seems out of place on this otherwise ergonomic mouse. The top and bottom buttons are not too difficult to reach without mistakes but the middle is oddly placed between the two. Someone with a claw grip would have a better shot at distinguishing the three than someone with a palm grip. The mouse wheel can also click left and right. All buttons are customizable using the Logitech Gaming Software.

The Logitech Gaming Software is a fully featured customizer allowing five different profiles to be customized for gaming on the road. For at-home gamers, the software can scan your hard drive for existing games and add your selections to a seemingly infinite number of allowable profiles. Each profile is determined by the filename executed when the game starts. If you are familiar with navigating your computer files and folders this should not be an issue but it may prove problematic for those unfamiliar with delving into gaming folders. I have found gaming detection to be mostly good but the occasional game aggravation pops up. For instance, when Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was released, the software would not detect the game until I Alt-tabbed out of the game and back in again. Buttons can be programmed to repeat while held down or toggled on and off. One notable exception is mouse-clicks. Try as I might, I couldn't find a way for mouse-clicks to be repeated as long as I held down the left or right mouse buttons.

If I had a wish list, I would ask the engineers to change two things. First, I'd have them scrap the buttons in the upper left in favor of a design similar to their entry-level G300 mouse. That mouse has two buttons on the top left and two buttons on the top-right. Both sides are easily "nudged" without having to take your fingers off the left and right mouse buttons. Secondly, I would want a charging base so the battery can be easily charged after a gaming session instead of plugging in cords and/or replacing the battery day after day. Aside from these two requests, this is a dynamite solid mouse, well-engineered, with a lot of weight and decent button placement.

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