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John S. Dean "John" RSS Feed (Sturtevant, WI United States)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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Mega Bloks Skylanders Outlands Kaotic Castle
Mega Bloks Skylanders Outlands Kaotic Castle
Offered by SET 4 BABY
Price: $26.00
25 used & new from $24.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Good build, holds together well, October 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My son and I love MegaBloks, and have all the Halo sets, and quite a few of the Skylanders ones as well.

This was a typical build, and very familiar for anyone who built the Chaos Castle since it's a similar build.

Parts all fit, we weren't missing any, and it's pretty solid and holds together well after it's completed.

It's a bit lacking, though, being just one tower, so play options are limited, but it's still a good fit for anyone with a Skylanders MegaBloks collection going.


Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light (SpongeBob SquarePants)
Projectables LED Plug-In Night Light (SpongeBob SquarePants)
Offered by JohnnyLots
Price: $7.99
11 used & new from $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Works great, son loves it, October 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had the planets version of this for a few years for my young son, and he loved it, much better than just a standard night light stuck in the wall. It finally died, so I grabbed the SpongeBob one to replace it.

He loves this one even more, and it's actually more effective with the brighter yellow, so the room is a little brighter now. I didn't pay enough attention to the old one to notice any fading, looked fine to me all those years, and this one with the brighter color may fade if all the reviews are right, but for the cheap price, I consider this something disposable anyway, and if it makes it a year or two, I would consider myself to have gotten my money's worth out of it.


Disney INFINITY: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) Video Game Starter Pack - PS4
Disney INFINITY: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) Video Game Starter Pack - PS4
Offered by Holidaydiscount
Price: $69.99
35 used & new from $55.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely better than Infinity 1.0 but still not a compelling purchase, October 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had purchased the Infinity 1.0 for my then 10 year old son, since he enjoyed Skylanders so much. He did enjoy the Infinity games initially, but the playsets really didn't offer much for replay value. Once you cleared something out, you couldn't go back and do it again without doing a new game. So once we did the very short play time needed to complete a playset, it sat. Unlike Skylanders, that gets played often.

I hesitated to do the Infinity 2.0 purchase because of the lack of play we had on the first one, but I had purchased the Xbox One version anyway more out of curiosity than anything, and then accidentally got sent this PS 4 version from the Vine program. There's not any real noticeable difference between the two as far as graphics and such go, so other than gamer points, there's no advantage for us either way.

I have to say, graphics are considerably improved compared to the Infinity 1.0 on the Wii-U that we had. So while this is not at the level of some of the first person shooters on the next gen consoles, it's definitely a step up from Infinity 1.0.

Gameplay seems to be mostly the same though, although the playsets are considerably more expanded. But it's still the same basic play experience. You're still breaking things, gathering the sparks, opening up upgrades. The upgrade tree is considerably more advanced as well, with some granular control over what paths of skills you want to focus on.

We picked up a few extra figures and another two play sets, and while some of the controls are fine, I've had moments of real frustration when things are just wildly inconsistent. The Iron Man figure, for example. Upon the very first time playing him, no upgrades yet, I would randomly fly. I had no idea what got this to happen, and most of the time then playing I was unable to altogether. Then after the first upgrade, I saw some flight options that would have to wait for me to get enough experience and other prerequisite upgrades for, but that just begged the question about why I could fly at the beginning, but only sometimes.

And it's the little things like that which really detract from what may have been a more enjoyable game.

But the downside is that they're competing against things like Skylanders, which really is, for my son and I, a better system. The graphics are better, the animations are better, and there's more playability there than with the Infinity system.

So while it's neat to be able to play as characters he likes from things like Guardians of the Galaxy, or Marvel comics, the novelty wears off quickly with the repetitiveness of the gameplay and the inconsistent controls.


Tommy Hilfiger Men's Ranger Passcase, Black, One Size
Tommy Hilfiger Men's Ranger Passcase, Black, One Size
Price: $22.49
12 used & new from $17.87

1.0 out of 5 stars Credit card slots were insanely tight, even for a new wallet, October 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have a trifold wallet I've been using for years, and wanted something different. So after seeing the reviews, I thought I'd try this one. People mentioned how it was thin, and I liked the looks.

It arrived in the nice leatherish box, and that was about the best thing about it.

I understand that things start out stiff - I'm in my 40's, so have been using wallets for a while. But this one was impossible. The slots for the cards were so narrow that I had to use an insane amount of force to get them shoved inside, and for one, I needed to grab a needlenose pliers to pull back out because it was so tight that I couldn't get enough of a grip with my fingers and thumb to pull it out again.

It wasn't as thin as it seemed people made it out to be, as it was just barely thinner than my trifold wallet. It was much shorter than I would have preferred as well, so it's a very shallow spot to store bills and if they're just a little bit tilted, it sticks out the top on one side or another.

I liked the looks, and could have gotten used to the rest of the issues, but those impossible to use credit card slots just ruined it.


Canon LBP7110CW Wireless Color Printer
Canon LBP7110CW Wireless Color Printer
Price: $177.99
55 used & new from $145.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent print quality, but wireless setup issues with the included CD, October 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This thing is surprisingly heavy. But the packing is nice, since unlike other printers which require you to reach in and grab to try to get a grip under to lift it out of the box, this has a cardboard "caddy" it's sitting in with handles sticking up in the box, to make it easy to lift out. Packing materials for parts in the printer is about as simple as I've ever seen as well. One piece to remove from the back paper path, and just four pull tabs to remove the covers from each of the 4 toner cartridges. They came pre-installed in their slots, and you don't even have to pull them out to remove the plastic strip holding the toner in for shipping. In more than 2 decades of unboxing printers, and working in the IT field, this is the easiest printer I've ever unboxed.

Since I'm on a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga tablet computer with no optical drive, I tried to download the drivers from Canon's site, but it had nothing to download, it says they're included with the OS. There also are no utilities to download - that's fine, but it means I have no easy way to get this thing on my wireless network without pulling out the external optical drive and getting things plugged in for it. So I did that, and ran the program on the disc. In order to get this on a wireless network, you will HAVE to connect via USB to configure its wireless settings. And, of course, when trying to get this on my WPA2 wireless 802.11n network in my office, it failed. Nothing I did would get this to connect, compared to the last two Epson workforce printers I've set up here.

So I took it home and tried there. Same failure. Wouldn't even try to connect, just instantly errors. So I checked the website again, and now they have a download there. I grabbed the download, extracted it, and this time it let me complete the wireless setup for the printer. I hardcoded an IP address on it for my home network, then I then installed the drivers. The install has an option to search the network for a printer, and it found it right away, and drivers installed without any issues. I sent a test page, and 16 seconds later it was on top of the printer.

I don't like that it keeps randomly "whirring" away after a print job, as if it's still spinning the gears to feed out paper although there's no paper being fed. It goes for about a minute or so after some print jobs complete. Other times it doesn't. That would annoy me to no end in an office environment if this was sitting near my desk. I've found nothing I've done that triggers it, since I thought maybe it had to do with when color things print, but I couldn't get it to consistently reproduce it at will. I'm guessing it's just some cleanup function it's doing when it detects cleaning required or something.

I have an Epson Workforce multifunction printer at my office, that I use about once every 4 or 5 months (I don't print much there). At home I have an Epson Artisan 837 that I just adore. Best printer I've ever owned, duplexing for printing, scanning, it does it all, and prints awesome photos. At home, my printing consists mostly of printing homework things for my 11 year old son. So I pulled up my folder with his past homework in it, and started doing prints on both the Epson 837 and this Canon laser printer. I wanted to see side by side not just how quickly things printed, but how good the final product looked.

First thing was a single page with text. Took about 20 seconds to complete on the inkjet, with 16 or 17 of those seconds being the sending and warming up or whatever it does before it prints. It's on the same wireless network as the Canon is. Then I sent the same job to the Canon. And I instantly got an error, although a test print just printed a couple minutes ago. While I opened control panel to look at properties of the printer, it suddenly started whirring again, and out came the print job. So I tried again, got the same error, but this time it wouldn't come out. Printer properties show nothing in the queue, but about two minutes later suddenly there was the hung print job, and it only says "error" with no details. And now even a test page fails, although the first test page printed fine, and the first print job printed after a bit. Then after I deleted the first failed print job, like 3 minutes later, suddenly it printed the second test page I sent after the errored page. And all this time the status in control panel showed "ready".

I tried another document, this one printed with no problem. So I opened a few web pages, and tested printing from them. And from that point on, I received no errors. Emails, web pages, word or excel documents, things printed without any further issues, so I have no idea what the problem was with it initially. I power cycled it several times, printing in between, and had no repeat of printing errors.

A four page HTML email about electronics and phone covers, with photos, printed in about 39 seconds on the Artisan 837, and 35 seconds on the Canon laserjet. Black and white text seems to be about equal for both.

As for the quality... The first thing I printed was just a half page paragraph he had done, with vocabulary words highlighted in the sentences he wrote. On the Canon laser, the highlighted yellow was bright, like a real highlighter. On the inkjet, it was a much darker yellow. I've never had any complaints about how the inkjet looked, but comparing the crispness of the text between the two, there is no comparison. While the inkjet looks really good, the laser just looks phenomenal. This was consistent across everything I printed. This was all being done on standard office paper, nothing special about it.

The webpage with graphics and photos embedded - results pretty much were the same. Things were crisper and brighter on the laser, and a little more fuzzy and faded looking on the inkjet. And granted, this is nothing new, laser printers have always been sharper in all my experience, but I really had thought the inkjet was doing a better job with text and fonts when I didn't have a laser printer to compare it to directly.

So for printing, this thing really is excellent. Not so much speed-wise, since it's really on par with the inkjet I've been using for a while now. It claims 14 PPM with a first print of 18 seconds or less. My inkjet Epson Workforce printer claims to push about 20 PPM color and black and white, but it's really been closer to 15 or 16 in my use.

But compared to the inkjets, the tray is pretty thin. Usually smaller lasers like this are ideal for SOHO offices, or small businesses, and with the limited capacity of this paper tray (150), I would think it would work alright for an area that's not used for heavy printing. I'd prefer to see an optional lower tray assembly that this could sit on, though. But I see no such option on their website, so be aware of the capacity and make sure it suits your needs before purchasing.

On the Canon website, color toner is 85 dollars per cartridge (there's three color cartridges in here) and black's standard cartridge is 69 dollars. Color cartridges list a yield of approximately 1500 pages, black lists approsimately 1400 pages. So black figure you're paying about 4.6 cents per page, color per cartridge is about 5.5 cents per sheet per cartridge, or 16.5 cents per sheet if you're using all three colors. So like most laser printers, it's not cheap. There is a high capacity black option as well, that only costs 17 dollars more and yields 1000 more sheets, which drops you down to 3.6 or so cents per page.

I tried to compare that to the Epson WF-4630 I've been using at the office, or the Artisan 837 I use at home. A 4 pack combo of black and colors from the manufacturer is 87 dollars, but I've been unable to find any estimated page output for them, so I have no way to do a comparison. Of course Epson claims that their workforce here uses 50% less ink than competitors laser printers, but with no hard numbers to back it up, that's just comparing apples and oranges.

Side note, this worked as well, and installed as easily, on my Windows 10 computer as it did on my Windows 8.1 computer. Drivers for 64 bit windows worked without issues on Windows 10.

The "retail" price is ridiculous though, and I see most places including Amazon here selling it for less than half that. And for that lower price, this really is an impressive printer. But when those cartridges run out, you're going to spend more for toner than the printer cost. Other reviewers on other sites have mentioned that the toner that comes with it is not a full cartridge, but less than half full, which would make sense for the price of the cartridges. And if the cartridges weren't so expensive, I'd say this was a good deal.

But I just can't get past the cost for the toner for my own use, or for my office's use. But for someone in a small business who needs quality printing and relies on it looking good for their business and clients, then clearly this would be a contender. For home use, I'd give this two stars for value due to the toner cost, 3 stars for the overall rating since I have to give it 4 or 5 stars for the print quality. But this isn't geared towards the home user, but a small business environment, where they're likely already paying for toner cartridges. And in that situation, this warrants a solid 4.


Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Attack Mantis
Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Attack Mantis
Offered by B.A. Toys
Price: $79.99
5 used & new from $79.23

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid joints, but not much "build" involved here, October 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Don't buy this to necessarily build a "normal" Megabloks kit. The upper body is all one piece from where the legs go through the arms. All you assemlble is the legs and feet and a few details on the top.

Oddly enough, my instructions had NOTHING for installing the batteries in the Mantis. There's one screw that is on the bottom of the thin body part, that holds a cap over the battery compartment. And inside there are very small marks, one - and two +, showing which end of the battery should be sticking up when you've inserted them (up being relative to you holding the toy upside down, so the marks are what should be sticking out of the bottom where the cap will rest). I had assumed it had built in batteries for the main body like their other light and sound toys, and found this by accident when I was trying to find out what kind of batteries they were since I thought they were dead.

The build takes all of 10 to 15 minutes. It's simple and quick. AAA batteries and you're up and running. And this was one of the very few Megabloks kits I've ever had (we've got pretty much every Halo kit they make) that has a clear, explicit mistake in the instructions without an addendum sheet put in the box to correct it. one of the steps for putting these flat, smooth square pieces on the legs shows the dots in the wrong position very clearly, but the next picture for the next step shows them in a different spot, where they should be.

We've built the actual Mantis Megabloks kit, and it looked cool, and this one looks cool as well. That one has a bit more detail than this one but of course has no "action".

It's nice to see the articulation for the legs is tight. We've had a few of their earlier kits where they did a real bad job with the "joints" and legs and such were just impossible, and wouldn't hold any pose. These are tight, and it stays put where you pose it.

If you're looking for a normal Megabloks build, this is one to pass on since it's mostly pre-assembled. But if you're looking for something with a different dimension to it, and you have a kid who loves remote controlled things like I do, it's worth grabbing for the collection then.


Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack - Xbox One
Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack - Xbox One
Price: Click here to see our price
22 used & new from $71.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great graphics, but they're aiming for the parent's wallet even more this time it seems..., October 14, 2014
I was a bit torn about what rating to give this. Part of me wants to give it two stars, because of how they've managed to really go overboard (even for the Skylander franchise) by making you HAVE to purchase a bunch of extra things now to do half of what's in the game. Trap crystals, trap master characters, this just seems to have gone a bit beyond what they fleeced people for with the previous games.

On the other hand, on the Xbox one, this looks gorgeous.

My son (now 11) and I have been playing Skylanders since the first was released, have all the versions, and I have no idea how many figures we've got. But he really enjoys the game, and it's a fun one for us to play together. And each version added a bit of a new dimension to gameplay, but he REALLY loves trapping the "bad" guys, then playing the bad characters.

Graphics have been just gorgeous, at least compared to other Skylander games we've done. This is the first one we've had for a newer generation console though, since previously we've played on the Xbox 360 and the Wii U. Smooth gameplay, really sunning graphics (again, compared to the other versions, not necessarily compared to the serious games out there), they did a great job on this.

The new portal actually has a speaker in it, and one of the nice touches that I enjoyed (and my son goes ape over cause he thinks it's hilarious) is that when you trap a bad Skylander, their voice goes from the surround sound to just coming from that tiny speaker with the crystal by it, so you can "hear" them yelling out of the crystal. It's a little thing, but it really does add to the immersion in the game.

Not much to say about gameplay, since it's still basically the same thing it has always been, but it works smoothly.

All in all, I really DO like this game and my son loves it, but if they keep branching out in merchandising the way they are for what you need to actually do things in the game, soon you won't be able to do much more than 10% of the game without buying a few dozen more pieces... I hope they don't go too far with that concept. Because while it's fun to play, buying characters to unlock something that only plays for a few minutes for that locked section is a bit annoying...


Hawk (Vlad Taltos Book 14)
Hawk (Vlad Taltos Book 14)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "Shut up, Loiosh.", October 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'm a bit torn by this book. In some ways, Vlad is back. The Vlad I loved from the earlier books.

This is one of my all time favorite series ever. I read the very first one a year or two after it was released when I was drawn to the cover. I've been hooked ever since. Normally I like the more "epic" stories, things that are long and detailed like the Sword of Truth series (at least before it started going downhill), Melanie Rawn's dragon series, and the Wheel of Time books.

That being said, and this seeming to be the complete opposite of those types of my preferred books, if all those authors and Steven Brust released a new book the same day, his is what I would reach for first. There's just some magic in his writing, his style, and there are few people I've ever come across that can do the funny, sarcastic dialog as well as he can. And while not epic in scale, he has some great twists and turns in his stories. He's definitely one of the greats for me.

We've been on quite a ride with Vladimir and Loiosh, and like many, there are some books I like more than others. When one of Mr. Brust's friends was murdered, the whole theme of the Vlad series turned. I mourned the old style, since I really, really enjoyed the earlier books, and I didn't find the ones after quite as compelling, but while it lost some of what I really liked, they still maintained good stories, and it did give him a chance to delve more into character development at a deeper level. So all in all, still worth reading by every measure.

But this book brings back some of the things I loved about the earlier books. Vlad is fed up after 8 years of being on the run, and he's decided to end it, one way or another. And in the course of the story, he kind of wakes up from the sleepwalking kind of life he had been dealing with to survive, and starts to find himself again.

But while the story itself is well told, and we finally get more insight into the Godslayer, my complaint is that the whole plan seemed just a bit simplistic and obvious. There wasn't nearly as much puzzle here, or hidden levels of things that Vlad hid from the reader, as in the other books. So the end was a bit anticlimactic, although it was done well, and his interaction with the Demon is, as always, enjoyable.

But despite my disappointment with the solution and how it played out, it's still a solid Vlad book, and worthy of 5 stars. If you have followed the series, this is a must read.


Schleich Horse Stable with Accessories
Schleich Horse Stable with Accessories
Price: $121.94
4 used & new from $121.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Four stars at retail price, but 5 when they discount the cost, October 11, 2014
This was packed very carefully for shipping. They even put strips of cardboard between the horses legs so the legs wouldn't get bent inward by anything. And something I love to see, there was no styrofoam, so no tiny balls of it to stick to everything in my house when it is opened.

The level of detail is pretty amazing, down to the sliding latch on the barn door and the grain on the wood. The carrots have texture, and the greens on them are far more detailed than the main parts of some toys. The only thing I was disappointed in was the saddle. With all the detail they did elsewhere, such as the blanket (which even for a 47 year old male, I think it's just insanely cool they did it so nicely), it would've been nice to see at least a second color in the saddle instead of every detail all being the same uniform brown from the molding process, where there would be metal, stitching, and different materials. The big ratcheting adjustment part of the cinch is overdone as well. I know from toys I've seen in the past that many things like this used to use a much less obtrusive small knob on one side, and the other would have a line of openings to let you push that knob into to secure it. They may have bypassed that for something that has more strength and holds up more to play and longevity, and seeing how they detailed and overbuilt the rest of this to make it as good as they could, I can see that being one of the reasons for this choice.

I also like how they have stall sign stickers that the child can personalize by writing the horses name on them.

Construction is easy, I didn't think anything was difficult to fit, because the way the wall pieces slide in and snap makes it very sturdy when complete. When this is finished, it's SOLID. MUCH more so than many other play sets I've dealt with.

The horses look nicely done as well, and for any little girl that's going to be the star of the show here. But for me, the barn really is the star. The split doors just add another nice detail to the final object. I had selected this simply to have on hand when nieces or young cousins visit, since it's not the type of thing my 11 year old son is interested in playing with, and the first girl who played with it absolutely LOVED it.

All told, even me as a grown man found this just really, really impressive. It's certainly a steep price though, which is the only reason I would have knocked down a star, but I can at least honestly say that there does seem to be some justification for the price with the quality and detail they managed here. But Amazon currently has it for 23 percent off, and that was enough of an offset to make me give it 5 stars, not just the 4 stars I would had the retail price been set still.


AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Commercial Patio Heater
AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Commercial Patio Heater
Price: $169.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worked surprisingly well although doesn't light with any wind around, October 10, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never used one of these before, and never have been by anyone that has one. I live in Wisconsin, so I thought that decidedly odd considering our climate. When I saw this on the Vine program I selected it as much out of curiosity as potential use.

I knew that there was no way to use a kind of "space heater" concept outdoors - heat would dissipate too quick. So my assumption was this was going to be like a campfire type function, a place that provides a spot of warmth to offset the chilly air. But without some of the drawbacks, hopefully, such as smoke and sparks and having to feed material to keep it burning. And, of course, eventual cleanup of ashes and such. Radiant heat, so no fans, it just toasts up anything around it. Good plan, if it works, since then it shouldn't be impacted as much by wind and such as a blowing heater would. The materials warn you that it needs about 50 inches around it for safety. Easy enough to do on an outdoor patio.

The box arrived, and wasn't as heavy as it looked - easily handled by one person. In the box there were quite a few parts. Styrofoam also got into everything, so you better clean out so it doesn't melt and stink. The first step is putting sand or water in the base. I can't see that this is going to help all that much since the base is pretty narrow when looking at the size of the reflector on top and the height of the unit. But since I had no sand, I used water for now. And I then learned that the small plastic plug leaks. You have to tilt this up to the side to screw the plastic container back into the base, and I had water coming out despite the cap being on tight. It's just plastic on plastic, no gasket or anything, so I'd strongly suggest if you get this and want to weigh down the base, plan to use sand, and have it ready as the very first step of assembly. In cold weather environments, that would work better anyway since water could expand when it freezes and split the plastic, since if you're like me this would winter either in a shed or the garage where temps get below freezing.

One thing I HAVE to note - I absolutely LOVE the hardware packaging for the nuts, bolts, and screws. It's the typical cardboard backing, with the vacuum sealed plastic over the top of all the pieces inside. But here's the kicker, something I haven't had on other things like this in the past - the cardboard is thin and perforated around each group of hardware. So when you need the small screws, you can pop that back part open and get at ONLY them, with nothing else able to spill out. Each item has its own perforation. This made it a breeze to get what you want. And each section is labeled on both front and back so there's no doubt that you're getting the right part. This alone made the build more pleasant than other similar things I've built.

Another thing in the packaging's favor, everything is really well protected from scratches. Every metal piece was protected with that sticky saran wrap type material, and for the most part, it all peeled off easily, in a single sheet for each piece. The only thing that wasn't protected was the top of the burner unit, and mine was a bit scuffed up from a cardboard box with smaller parts that was on top of it in shipping, but that's covered by the reflector anyway so nobody will ever see it. Every spot that can be scratched and would be visible is well protected.

When assembling the curved parts of the base that go around the propane tank and hold the first upright pipe, just hand tighten till you get that upright pipe in place. That will let everything like up easily before you tighten it. Same advice goes later when you assemble the reflector on top.

The only mistake I saw with the instructions was one step that says to remove lock washers and screws from head assembly, but they are in the cardboard hardware pack, not installed already. Aside from that, the one step I must have missed (and I looked back again to make sure) was the one that had me screw the two upright parts together to put the burner head onto the base. It seems to totally have skipped that step. But there's no way to miss the fact that you need to put the top on the bottom, so it's not a big deal.

Assembly alone took about 75 minutes which included the time to keep the wind from blowing everything away and to stop and take notes during the assembly for my review. It should take considerably less for someone who builds this uninterrupted.

It's tall - too tall to fit under the garage door when upright, so I have to make room at the back of the garage to store this when not in use. And of course that tilting while rolling to fit under the garage left a trail of water behind thanks to that leak.

When completed, it appears to be about 7 and a half feet tall, since I'm about 6'1" and even the controls are over my head (physically that is). It's larger than I had anticipated, since this was an item I picked while there was still no page on Amazon for it and no specs available.

It has been in the 50's during the day and down to the mid 30's at night around here so this arrived at a great time of the year. But when it came time to fire it up, I realized my spare propane tank was empty. I keep two so I can rotate as I'm grilling if one runs out as I dislike running out of fuel mid BBQ. So I learned that propane prices went up quite a chunk in the last year and a half to two years since I've had one filled...

The down side was that I couldn't test this the day I built it, because it was too windy, and wouldn't light. That is my first star I decided to take away from this. I picture using this in the fall when I'd still like to do things outside but there's that bite in the air, and in the wind. In that situation, I can't even light the unit. I wondered if maybe the gas station I did my cylinder exchange gave me an empty one, but when I weighed it, the weight certainly was not empty. Side note, I now know which gas station to avoid when doing these swaps since they sell them with only about 15 lbs. of propane in them, not 20...

But the next day wasn't the windy type of day, so I wheeled it out and fired it up. And without the wind, it started up just fine. And boy does it radiate heat, and quickly. On high, it doesn't take long for things to start toasting up. Low and medium seem to do a good job of maintaining a smaller radius when it isn't too chilly out. When I was testing over a couple days, it was averaging about 50 or so outside, and me in a short sleeve shirt and jeans felt comfortable within a 5 to 10 foot radius of the unit. With it on high, the comfort radius spread out to about 12 to 15 feet, and on high, being right next to the unit, within a couple feet, was uncomfortable, especially for me since I'm over 6 feet tall and shave my head, so I had my bare skull a bit too near the burner.

All told, I have to say I'm impressed with the unit. Only things I had problems with were lighting it in the wind, which seems kind of an issue considering the use this is designed for, and that the top has a bit of a sway to it, but that's due to how the upright pole bolts to three curved bars that go around the propane tank. It's not going to be rock solid with that design. But it doesn't move much anyway, no more than you'd expect something tall and skinny to move in the wind. It puts out a good amount of heat, and certainly seems like a good replacement for a fire pit if you want something to keep you warm out on a patio when it's chillier out, or if you have a deck surface you wouldn't want a fire pit to be placed on. However, there's something to sitting around a fire that this lacks, too. But if you're looking for heat in a safe format that you can move around pretty easily and use on surfaces you maybe can't use a fire pit, or if you just want something to heat an area up, this will certainly do the job. And since the heat is up high, it's a safer option for people with little ones who would be running around outside as well.


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