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Customer Reviews: 8
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Helpful Votes: 1360

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Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 32 GB, Black) by ASUS (2013) Tablet
Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 32 GB, Black) by ASUS (2013) Tablet
Price: Click here to see our price
117 used & new from $129.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Downsized Upgrade, August 2, 2013
Aside from a brief and craptacular experience with the Motorola Xoom a couple years ago, I've been an iOS user.. multiple generations of iPhones, iPad 2, and iPad 3. Generally happy with the ecosystem, apps, and user experience, but I've been itching for a smaller form factor for a while and didn't like the idea of chipping in on the iPad Mini - it read like a reactive, rushed, sub-par product. Around the time I started reading up on the first-gen Nexus 7, there were rumblings of the 2nd gen, so the clock started ticking on dipping a toe back into the Android pond.

My preordered Nexus 7 FHD 32GB arrived a couple days ago, and I can't find a thing I don't like about it.

Speed. There's an agility in its performance that's reminiscent of the iPad 3 - but more impressive. It's a fast machine. Apps snap into action. Nothing I've thrown at it so far makes it lag.

Resolution. Other reviews extoll the pixel mathematics; from my perspective, it's stunning. Better than anything I've seen in a tablet. Netflix streaming movies are crisp, photos are brilliantly rendered, and the overall onscreen environment is exceptionally pleasing to the eyes. If screen resolutions on tablets never evolved any further, this would be a great stopping point. Just beautiful.

Form factor. For me, the 7" tablet is the sweet spot. Sure, I like watching movies or reading on a 10" tablet, but there's no fidelity or experience loss in this size. It's nice to hold, and doesn't feel cheap or flimsy in the slightest.

OS. My glimpse into the Android ecosystem during the early-adopter days of the Motorola Xoom wasn't favorable. Herky-jerky performance, weird onscreen typing lag, lack of tablet apps - it wasn't a meaningful experience. The difference between then and now is nothing short of astonishing. There's a level of polish and detail that speaks to an average iOS user like me, yet contains all the paths into the 'under the hood' aspects of Android that illuminate the nerd appeal. I love the fact that there's so much to learn and do with this OS, unlike iOS where you're largely just along for the ride.

Price: Doesn't really need further championing. You get an amazing product with all the bells and whistles for an exceptionally reasonable price. It seems like every Apple device I buy immediately goes into a cushioned case, gets a screen protector, and I transport the thing like it's an donated organ. After such a significant buy-in for an iPad, who wants to deal with a shattered or scratched-up screen or dented chassis? The lower price point on the Nexus 7 doesn't mean I'll baby the Nexus 7 any less, but I don't feel the same compulsion to make it live like Bubble Boy, and I can just use the device in an everyday sense. Replacing a damaged N7 won't be as financially painful as an iPad.

One tip: the first couple times I plugged in (Apple) headphones, I was getting crackly sound, or no sound at all. The headphone jack didn't feel look it was inserting all the way (but felt like it was going as far as it could), and I wondered if I had a bum unit. Turns out, you have to push it in a bit harder than you'd initially like to, which will result in a satisfying snap and boom - full audio. Felt a little silly afterwards, but hopefully that helps others with the same question/issue.

Gen 1 Nexus 7 users and Android fans in general don't need to be convinced - they ought to be largely happy with the upgrades present in this iteration. But for iOS users like me looking for the same kind of 'change', this is it. Check it out at a retailer, hold it, swipe it, play with it. You'll 'get it', and then you'll get it.

Advocare 24 Day Challenge
Advocare 24 Day Challenge
Offered by VitaPlus
Price: $173.00
6 used & new from $164.99

966 of 1,034 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars My Advocare 24-day Cleanse experience, July 31, 2013
What started out as a fairly effective cleanse ended in a severe physical reaction.

The initial 10-day herbal cleanse phase wasn't bad. As other reviewers have stated, you can replace the majority of the Advocare products in their cleanse plan with cheaper, more commonly-available alternatives. In my case, I had decent energy, felt like my body was back to dealing with waste effectively due to the fiber drink, and the Spark seemed like it was providing a reasonable replacement for my usual daily cup of joe. I was a little concerned when reading the Spark ingredients list and saw the significant amount of niacin (300% RDA), as the product is advertised as providing mental focus, clarity, and energy (a la those infernal niacin-packed 5 hour energy shots), but not having any frame of reference and no ill effects, I went on to phase 2 - the MNS phase. Total weight lost during the herbal cleanse phase was around 10-12lbs, predominantly water weight.

This is where the wheels came off. Within 48 hours of starting the MNS C phase (a series of pill supplements packed with yes, you guessed it, another 250% RDA of niacin), I started experiencing itching and irritation on my back, chest, and especially neck. The morning following the onset of these symptoms, my neck was swelling with retained water, and the itchy areas progressed into a hot, red rash. Standing in sunlight, it felt like the affected areas were severely sunburned. The rash proceeded to spread into my armpits, behind my ears, and up to the bottom of my chin. Pain level maybe a 5 or 6, discomfort level was a solid 9. Ibuprofen was largely ineffective in managing the discomfort.

At this point, I stopped taking anything related to the cleanse, and further increased my water intake; the symptoms remained static. Made an appointment with my doctor, and upon being seen, his take was pretty definitive. Cleanses like this are largely crap, the amount of niacin they're packing in are toxic, etc. The old adage about checking with your physician before commencing a program like this - naturally, I heartily recommend that via hindsight. When asked why I didn't experience the rash/reaction symptoms for the first 10 days, he said it takes the body approximately that long to formulate an immune system response, and when phase 2 kicked in with its niacin increase 10+ days into the cleanse, a reaction would have been unavoidable. I'll point out that in my 4 decades on this planet, I've never had an allergic reaction to anything like this.

So, bottom line:

I'm out the couple hundred clams to buy into this program.

One lost day of work seeing the doc, getting prednisone prescriptions.

5+ days spent as a rash-covered swollen-necked mutant (today is day 6, the prednisone is starting to alleviate some of the affected areas).

An Advocare rep telling me 'bummer, I've never heard of anyone having a reaction like that'. A simple Google search with the terms "advocare rash" reveals a significant number of pretty similar horror stories.

While you may not have an identical or even similar reaction, take from my experience that there are risks inherent to any radically-increased niacin dietary plan, and do yourself the solid of checking with a health care professional before beginning.

If you want to cleanse, adjust your diet and exercise, up the fiber to get the mail moving, buy your own omega 3s, and let your liver do the job it was designed to do. Lesson learned for me.

UPDATE 8/29/2013

I contacted Advocare to see what refund options were available under their 100% satisfaction guarantee. While their Customer Service team was unable to assist, they referred me to Distributor Support (even though I purchased the products from their retail site, and did not become a distributor <?>); that team provided me with an RMA number and a prepaid shipping label for the return of the remaining products. I shipped in the remainder of what I had left, and after a couple weeks of processing, a full refund appeared in my checking account. Their CS/Distributor Support representatives were polite, politically apologetic, and processed things without any hassle.

While my 1-star review of their product stands, their service/support staff deserve high marks and recognition for cleanly resolving a really negative experience with their products.
Comment Comments (27) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 19, 2015 7:48 AM PDT

Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" Zip Sleeve, Graphite (fits the Kindle Fire HD and HDX 7")
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7" Zip Sleeve, Graphite (fits the Kindle Fire HD and HDX 7")
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $6.99

176 of 206 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable expectations, reasonable Zip Sleeve, November 17, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Does the Kindle Fire Zip Sleeve smell? Yes. Mine arrived today, and as other reviewers have shrieked to the blackened skies of woe, there's a light-to-medium plastichemical odor.

Dealbreaker? Perhaps for some. Maybe my sense of smell has dulled a smidge over the years, but there's no way the sleeve's emanations will permeate a household, car, bus, bedroom, insert-enclosed-space here. After removing mine from the packaging, I parked it on my front porch in the fresh air for a couple of hours, and the scent is mostly diminished. I'm fairly confident the remaining odor will dissipate over time, but if it doesn't, I'm reasonably sure it's not going to induce mid-40s limb deformities. If you're overly sensitive to these types of odors, you'll probably want to save yourself the hassle and find something constructed from different materials.

Yes, it's expensive. I knew that when I bought it. I certainly wouldn't condemn the sleeve to an asinine 1-star review based on its price. You *were* there when you clicked "Place Your Order", right? If the current release-time price is a dealbreaker, the solution is quite simple. Wait for the price to drop, or buy something else. Empowered purchasing, no?

The Zip Sleeve is reasonably well-constructed and forms a nice snug fit around the Kindle Fire. The interior, as other reviewers have noted, is sufficient for protecting and cushioning the tablet. The zipper enclosure is solid. The color scheme is appealing, and the Amazon branding isn't obtrusive. I've had bad and good tablet and smartphone cases, and the Zip Sleeve falls in the upper 20% as far as form factor, usability, and construction go. I'll rate it here the same: 4/5.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2012 5:54 AM PDT

Fosmon Transparent Clear Screen Protector for iPhone 4 4G 4S with Lint Cleaning Cloth (Fosmon Retail Packaging) - 3 Pack
Fosmon Transparent Clear Screen Protector for iPhone 4 4G 4S with Lint Cleaning Cloth (Fosmon Retail Packaging) - 3 Pack
Offered by SF Planet
Price: $3.97
2 used & new from $0.01

73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poorly-machined, surface defects, no front camera cutout., June 29, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These screen protectors definitely fall into the 'you get what you pay for' category.

Strike 1:

The screen protectors are *not* precisely cut. After several re-applications to ensure I was installing it correctly, there's still a micro-seam on one side that 'overhangs' the screen. Thinking I had a dud, I tried screen protector #2 from the 3-pack, only to find it worse than the first. This overhang creates an inability for the screen protector to properly seal - leaving a vertical stripe of non-seated protector film down the face of the iPhone 4.

Strike 2:

After scuttling #1 & #2 screen protectors, I tried #3. This one fit the best of the bunch, but was still clearly ill-cut. However, it had some surface bloom patterns (not air bubbles beneath the surface, but actual blotches of discoloration) that wouldn't wipe away - they're 'in' the plastic film. Sigh.

Strike 3:

No cutout for the front-facing camera. While I don't have any plans of using the FaceTime feature anytime soon, its omission from the design scheme, as well as the poor engineering noted above, makes it abundantly clear that quality control wasn't a priority (or consideration) in far-flung China.

Save yourself a few clams and skip these, fellow iPhone 4 owners. Wait for the Otterbox cases.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2012 12:54 PM PDT

Alienware M15X 15.6-Inch Cosmic Black Laptop (Windows 7 Home Premium)
Alienware M15X 15.6-Inch Cosmic Black Laptop (Windows 7 Home Premium)
2 used & new from $1,859.99

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 100% Awesome!, January 11, 2010
I ordered my Alienware M15x through the Dell website on 12/3/2009. Delivery occurred on 12/18/2009, which was the original order anticipated build completion date. Nice! The laptop is replacing a home-built custom quad-core Cosmos gaming PC.

During the purchase process, I opted for the RAM upgrade to 4GB @ 1333MHz, upgraded the video card to the 260m (and got a $50 Dell promo gift card from this), got the 1080p screen, and upped the hard drive to 320GB. I subscribe to Steve Job's notion that Blu-Ray is a bag of hurt, so I stuck with the DVD/CD slot burner.

Performance-wise, the M15x is Sea Biscuit. I've thrown several games at it, from Crysis (silky-smooth at high resolution), WoW, Torchlight, Fallout 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Half-Life 2, Sins of a Solar Empire, and Company of Heroes. All ran flawlessly, at max or near-max settings. The standard Core i7 1.6GHz (2.8GHz turbo) cuts through these applications like nothing I've seen. While I enjoyed overclocking my custom desktop PC, this machine doesn't really need it. It's greased lightning right out of the box.


I liked the price point. I knew I was getting a great machine for the money, and what I spent matches what I received.

Weight. This is a desktop replacement, so I expected some heft. I like the fact that this thing has some meat to it. If I wanted a light, take-anywhere laptop, I would have bought a netbook.

Alienware effects/polish/workmanship - worth the price of admission. This is a beautiful machine.

Dell's service. Anytime a company underpromises and overdelivers, I'm a happy camper. The M15x arrived way ahead of schedule, packaged professionally, and came out of the box ready to roll.

My cons are pretty similar to other reviewers:

- screen is really reflective, but playing in a darker room mitigates this.

- touchpad. I don't know who was driving the boat when they decided on this particular hardware. It's not that bad, but it's not great either. Onscreen movement is pretty herky-jerky, even after software update. Mouse-users won't bother with it.

After years of desktop machines and business laptops, this is my first personal laptop, and start-to-finish, it's been a great experience. It's easily replaced my workhorse desktop for all my uses. I will gladly buy Dell/Alienware again down the road. Can't recommend it enough.

Mobile Edge Alienware Orion ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly 17.3-Inch Backpack
Mobile Edge Alienware Orion ScanFast Checkpoint Friendly 17.3-Inch Backpack
Price: Click here to see our price
114 used & new from $55.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior in every way, January 11, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The ordering process for this bag was one of those rare Amazonian lightning-in-a-bottle experiences. I ordered it (with standard shipping selected) around 5PM on January 13th, 2010, and it was delivered around 1PM the next day. Ka-pow!

The bag itself, like the title says, is superior in every way. The designer(s) seemed to have taken everything into account when they built this one out. Room enough for two laptops? Check. RF-shielded cellphone pouch? Check. Pockets and enclosures and storage compartments for mice, cellphones, pens, cords, cables, and water bottles? Check. The airport Checkpoint-Friendly laptop enclosure is a nice touch. The first time I looked it over, I was amazed at all the storage options.

Construction is sturdy and of high quality. Zippers move well with appropriate resistance and have subtle Alienware logos. Body contact areas are meshed for easy airflow, and are well-padded.

My backpack is going to be carting around the Alienware M15x, and I'm confident it's going to be in good hands.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2010 10:43 PM PDT

Darksiders - Xbox 360
Darksiders - Xbox 360
Offered by DAGI SALES
Price: $16.40
124 used & new from $0.01

86 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gamer's game? Hell yes., January 6, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Darksiders - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I'll preface this by cribbing lightly from early professional reviews. Yes, the game borrows concepts from GoW. Yes, there are aspects reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Toss in Devil May Cry and Portal while you're at it too.

Does the game suffer from this? Absolutely not.

I believe Darksiders will prove out to stand on its own merits:

Art/color/effects. The Darksiders world is painted vividly. Bloody, scarlet reds. Vivid, electric blues. Hellfire crackles and belches with palpable heat. Death effects are varying and plentiful. The Chaoseater rips through opponents with satisfying degrees of violence and gore. Joe Mad's character designs are top-notch, fresh, and lend strongly to the 'playing a comic book' feel. You'll like it or you won't - but I love it. The angel and demon designs, the shattered, demonically-warped landscape, the weaponry, War's armor - it's just awesome.

Voice acting. Mark Hamill is worth the price of admission. The other voice talents do an able job, but his role really stands out, and he does an impeccable job.

Combat. Button-mashers will find a lot to like. Newcomers will quickly feel at home with the combat setup. Experts won't feel like they're jogging around a dumbed-down rail-fighter. Combos are expressive and fun to achieve, and their resulting effects are satisfyingly brutal.

Story. I won't detail the twists and turns the story takes, but the fact that you're War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, sent back to Earth to figure out who screwed you over, and why, and kill everything standing in the way of that - it doesn't need to be any more cerebral. Revenge and justice are always a solid theme to an action slasher, and the story here doesn't fail.

The soul-currency system is a nice touch. There are many, many items in the destructive environment that will kick out souls that can be traded in as currency for new combat moves, weapon enhancements, health/rage buffs, etc. Some of these items raise an eyebrow (souls confined in a parking meter? ok.), but the gathering process is still fun.

Early boss fights are decent, but these battles really shine with selected increased difficulty.

The puzzles aren't terribly difficult. You're not going to employ any Half-Life 2-type problem-solving to figure them out, but they factor into the overall gameplay logically and seamlessly.

Some players might get hung up in the comparisons to other games in the genre. Others might see similarities or common themes as strengths - building on what gamers like, discarding other elements. My advice - enjoy Darksiders based on what you see, what you hear, and what you beat the holy (and unholy) crap out of in-game. Anticipate at least 17-20 solid hours of gameplay, with plenty to discover on subsequent playthroughs.

Start to finish, this game was a 9/10, and earned a spot on the shelf next to Halo 1-3, Fallout 3, CoD4, and Bioshock.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2012 8:59 PM PDT

No Title Available

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter garbage., January 1, 2010
= Durability:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I don't have any pros for this one, so we'll skip straight to the cons:

1. Like other reviewers have noted, the toy comes without any packaging, box, plastic bag - nothing. It arrives floating, unprotected, in a manila envelope. Niiiice touch, "bravofun". It may as well have come out of a gumball machine.

2. After winding up the diver... he doesn't really go anywhere. The diver's two flippers move in a repetitive up-down motion, but there isn't any forward propulsion produced. Wind it up and give it a good shove, and he'll still just float there with two vertically-flapping feet. Sort of defeats the whole purpose of a wind-up bathtub toy. Fail.

3. The diver is definitely not watertight. Put it in the water (wound up or not), and he'll suddenly list to one side or the other. This in turn brings one of the flippers nearly or completely out of the water. Even with one flipper out of the water, it still doesn't go anywhere. Fail again.

Bottom line - if you're looking for a relatively fun and engaging bathtub toy for a toddler... keep looking. This was nine bucks tossed out the window.

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