Profile for John S. Dean > Reviews


John S. Dean's Profile

Customer Reviews: 1176
Top Reviewer Ranking: 150
Helpful Votes: 9098

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

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SKLZ Pro Mini Basketball Hoop - Glow In The Dark
SKLZ Pro Mini Basketball Hoop - Glow In The Dark
Price: $34.99
2 used & new from $34.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy but not adjustable, so it rattles a lot without customizing, December 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
On first glance, it looked pretty neat. Assembly was a bit of a pain though. I first put the retaining plate on backwards (with the foam side against the glass) and it went on easy since the length of the screws made the nuts fit over the ends with a few threads caught, not a lot of work. But when I realized I did it backwards, it got to be more of a pain. The protective foam on the back was offset, so the screws wouldn't sit flush. However, that helped because once I had the screws positioned, they were held in by that foam so I didn't have to worry about them falling out before I got the nuts on tight. But that positioning also meant the screws protruded much farther through the board to the front "rim" side of the unit. And that meant a big gap between the nuts and the metal plate of the hoop. And the small pseudo "wrench" they give you was a bit of a pain since without any flared bottom edge for the nuts, it kept slipping off of them since they're so narrow. At least as they got screwed down and closer to the plate, you could tilt the "wrench" some so as to have it not able to slide off. Another reviewer used a socket, clearly the best option, but in an office environment, we didn't have a tool set handy.

The hooks for the door though are a fixed measurement. There is no adjustment for thinner or thicker doors. This is a bit of a letdown for me, since on my door in my office, the hooks are a bit too big, the door a little narrow, so there's movement. If you actually do get any pressure on the hoop, that gap in the hooks holding it on the door lets it get even more of a bowing in the plastic of the backboard, so it bends out even more than it would had the board been flush on the door.

The spring doesn't offer much bending, it's not like kids will be hanging off of it, but it certainly does allow for a bit of stress relief on the board when someone catches it. There won't be much instant force on the board possibly causing it to break. So while there isn't much play in the spring, there's enough to help keep the board from cracking unless you go overboard.

I had picked this for an office setting, and was disappointed that the ball came totally deflated and folded up. Not even a needle in here to use with another pump you may have. So unless you actually already have the equipment to inflate sports balls, you won't be able to use this. Of course we have no pump and needle at the office, and I don't have a needle at home for my bike pumps, so I had to wait for a coworker to inflate it for me. Fortunately he's one of the basketball coaches for his kid's school, so equipment wasn't an issue. Just be aware you'll have to inflate it yourself and need the needle and pump.

It's a bit noisier than I'd prefer in an office, since with the unadjustable hooks on back, it has a tendency to "lean away" from the door, and when the ball hits the backboard, it jumps and rattles. In the long run if I leave it on this spot, I'll likely use electrical tape or duct tape or something to make the back of the "hooks" thicker, or just tape something to the hooks to fill the gap between the hooks and the door, then it will sit better.

The glow is alright, but in Winter here in Wisconsin, while we don't have snow here, it's been gloomy and cloudy. So I've been forced to rely on indoor lights to get the glow happening. I'm hoping that direct sunlight gives a better performance for the glow in the dark here (since we have between the glass blinds and can totally close out the outside light). I'll also likely get some type of glow tape and put small strips around the rim so that it also glows. Granted, the net does, but shooting in the dark at the net isn't quite the same as shooting at a hoop.

Unlike some other "over the door" setups, this one doesn't allow the door to close. Which I did not expect it to, since it's a bit heavier duty than the ones that are thin enough to allow for closing. So the parts on top of the door are thicker, and while the hooks themselves can still slip between the door and frame, the thick front of the hooks where they secure the board, and the board with the thick foam on the back, are all too thick to squeeze between the door and the molding that the door closes up against when shut.

Nothing like this will ever replace (or replicate) true BB play outside, but I have to give props where props are due, this is the sturdiest indoor "hang off the door" type of hoop I've ever seen. For the price, it's well worth it for any basketball fan.

OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Plastic Measuring Spoons, Black
OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Plastic Measuring Spoons, Black
Price: $4.95
3 used & new from $4.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Work alright but still not quite what I am looking for, December 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have quite a collection of measuring cups and measuring spoons. I had high hope for these from the sound of the description.

However, the reality hasn't quite lived up to my expectations.

They are well done - comfortable, and have the scraper to level things out. The smaller ones sit level well, but the bigger one doesn't quite, it tilts towards the handle.

I liked the ability to pull one out of the pack - but I would prefer something that snapped on from the end, so I could just pull what I wanted out of the pack. Here, you have to pull the pack in half to get at the one you want (unless you're going to get the smallest or largest) then pull the one you want off of that half. So you have to snap twice to get at any of the middle four.

They snap off easily enough, but my concern is with heavy use, how long will that snap hold tight?

There's a rubbery grip which makes it very easy to hold them securely when you're working with liquids, contrasted to the smooth plastic of the rest of the spoon. The measurement marking is bright and easy to see, but others have reported that it fades or scratches off very quickly, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

I'd been using a single spoon with a moveable piece that gives you several different spoons in one, but I haven't been as much of a fan of that as I had hoped, so these have become my new "live" set for the time being, but I don't think they're my final set. I'll have to keep looking for something that I really like.

Zyliss Classic Cheese Grater
Zyliss Classic Cheese Grater
Price: $21.86

4.0 out of 5 stars My son's new favorite kitchen gizmo..., December 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My son's favorite dinner is spaghetti. And he spent his first 10 years eating it without any cheese sprinkled on top. Then I took him to a local chain Italian restaurant one day this spring, and he loved the way they grated cheese on top of his plate. Ever since then he's been a fan of the parmesan cheese grated on top.

This seems like a pretty simple thing, but I was a bit surprised at some of the little "Oh, that makes sense" kind of thoughts that went into it. The curved surface of the piece of the handle that presses the cheese against the grater - that means there is not much ungrated cheese left when you're done, it curves and gets pretty tight. One other reviewer mentioned cutting his piece somewhat like a triangle so that there's not much left that is left ungrated, and that's actually a pretty brilliant idea and it worked well.

It is good for both hands - you can quickly and easily remove the handle and grater and reverse them, so that left handed people can use it the other way. That is the same way it comes off for cleaning, and the removal is quick and easy.

It's not difficult to use, doesn't require much force, and does a good job of grating things pretty fine. It's not too difficult to clean up either.

The only downside is that it's designed for the harder cheeses, not softer ones, although it's also supposed to work well with nuts and chocolate.

For the price, it works surprisingly well. If you're looking for a way to do like the restaurants, this will do the job.

Mountain Buggy Protect Infant Car Seat, Black/Stone
Mountain Buggy Protect Infant Car Seat, Black/Stone
Price: $199.99
10 used & new from $199.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Can be noisy but is well designed for a baby's comfort and safety, December 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a bit torn about the "inside" of the seat. On the one hand, I think this is one of the best I've seen at how well designed things are, especially with the infant insert here. There's just oodles of padding and protection against even the straps and buckles from touching the infant. And the insert is really, really effective for securing the head and prevent excessive movement. But especially for an infant, I didn't like how much of a pain it could be to get the buckle clips snapped into the buckle itself. The one to my left when facing the unit consistently inserted easily and snapped into place but the one on my right was much more of a pain. It kept feeling as if it was off at an angle when it clearly wasn't, even when holding the two clips right next to each other the way they should fit together, and inserting them at the same time. And trying to get it to snap correctly when there's an infant underneath was a bit tricky to manage while leaning into the back of the car in the first place (I'm about 6'1" tall). You want the straps snug on the baby, and not loose, but you almost have to make them too loose to easily close the buckle since you have to dig your finger between the buckle clip and the baby to wiggle it around sometimes.

It is plenty adjustable, and designed to be used both with and without the base - so you can permanently mount the base in the car where you'll use this the most, but still be able to just drop this into another car without the base. The only recommended thing they have for that instance is to use a rolled up towel or something to maintain the right angle. There's actually a level on the side of the base to help you make sure it's positioned at the proper angle when you're using the base.

The canopy (sun shade) gives some protection but it didn't come down very far, so when the car seat is flat and level, the most coverage it gives leaves the opening straight up 90 degrees. I prefer them with more coverage when desired, leaving a smaller area for sun to poke in. Especially for a newborn that sits so low inside.

The carrying handle snaps into four positions, and moves easily when you depress both unlocking tabs (one on each side at the hinge where it meets the seat). The canopy does not interfere with it's movement, although it's a bit tight and the canopy may very well change position as you're moving past it in either direction. But the handle itself lacks any ergonomics for your hand. There's no padding, not a spongy grip, not any rubbery material, no conforming shape to the plastic to make it easy and comfortable for a hand. It's simply the same smooth, slick, hard plastic the rest of the handle is made of. So I really didn't care for that at all. In Wisconsin winters, when you're bundled up with gloves and such, something better designed makes a world of difference in feeling secure that it won't slip when you have that precious cargo inside...

There are two manuals, a separate one for the base and the seat itself, each doing a good job of showing just how everything should be secured. Other than the design things I wish they had done a bit differently, it really is a nicely engineered unit. But the handle makes noise when you're driving since it locks in place but there's still some wiggle room. So on rough roads, it can rattle. Even on not very rough roads, there's more noise coming from the back than I'd really prefer, between the handle's noise and the noise of the securing points of the seat and the base as it gets jiggled while driving. But everything except the handle is more subdued when you have the weight of the child inside. It's not GONE, but it's not nearly as annoying.

I wish I had one of the strollers to test this out with. That really is one thing that makes this stand out, how you can simply lift it out of the car seat and snap it onto a frame and wheels and have an instant carriage.

All told, this really is a nice car seat and carrier even with my gripes. It's SOLID, you feel that this can put up with some forces if you get in an accident. But it still comes out easily from the base and snaps into the base with no issues. Toss in the ability to buy the stroller option, and this really does become a multi functional transport system you feel safe putting your baby into.

ERGObaby Organic Bundle of Joy, Navy
ERGObaby Organic Bundle of Joy, Navy
Price: $169.99
6 used & new from $169.00

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing when compared to the last one I used..., December 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The thing I noticed immediately when opening the box and removing the product was the solidity. It's thick, it's padded, it just FEELS really, really well made. Not like some of the other similar products I've used over the years. This one screams comfort and quality. It's almost like lifting a flak vest or something compared to normal harnesses.

It has very clear pictographs walking you through step by step how to attach it and get a baby inside. There's three ways to wear and use it, depending on the size and weight of the baby, with the general notes saying 4-24 months and 6-24 months for the two frontal positions, and for the rear position, 6 - 48 months. Although I have a hard time imagining using this with someone who's 48 months old and up to 45 lbs.

One of the front positions has the baby facing the parent directly, one has the baby "sideways", and the final for larger kids is on the back like a piggy back ride.

It's COMFORTABLE. The straps are padded better than any other harness like this I've used. And the way they use an insert for the younger babies is great since when the child is bigger, the insert isn't used and the harness then is usable for a longer period of time as the child grows more. You don't have to get something different for each stage of the child's development. The insert gives really good support for an infant's head also.

There's a little bit of storage, a pocket and a zippered section behind the pocket with the zipper on the side of the opening so you can reach in easily with your hand on that side. But I think they missed an opportunity for other storage along the bottom. There's this piece on the lower end that the lower belt goes around, and it's already bolstered and thicker, with some padding, and I think that would have been the BEST place to have some open top pockets for things like a cell phone and such.

There's even a built in hood that tucks into that front pocket with chin straps and snaps that you can easily adjust.

It feels really nice when used - night and day compared to the other ones I've had in the past.

I normally would've given this four stars because of the lack of storage, I think they really missed the boat there. But since it has more than one way to use it, can have its life extended beyond the infancy stage by removing the baby insert, and mostly because of the padding and comfort, I just have to give it 5 stars anyway.

Definitely the best baby carrier I've ever worn.

H-Ligature & Cap, Alto Sax, Gold-plated
H-Ligature & Cap, Alto Sax, Gold-plated
Price: $27.26
19 used & new from $24.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Well fitted for my alto sax, December 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've got the original pieces that came with my alto sax, I've never replaced or upgraded them. So for me, since my sax was under five hundred dollars, the quality of this is better than the one that came with my instrument.

Some have had size issues, one person saying it was too small. I had the opposite worry, I thought it was going to be a bit too big, that it wouldn't hold the reed well with the way the H part of the ligature is bowed out. But it fit just perfectly.

Someone else reviewed that the cap is rubber. Maybe they received a different cap than I did, this one is plastic. It has what appears to be a rubbery part applied to the outside of it to help it grip, but the cap itself is a regular plastic, and worked just fine for me.

I didn't have a cap with my sax, so this is a nice addition. And since my sax is black, with the ligature one of the few brass pieces, I had not realized how tarnished and dull mine was until I saw it next to this new one.

All told it works well, and it looks good, but I'm just not a fan of the price. I'm not a professional musician, so I may be missing something about what makes this (or others priced far higher than this) worth the extra money when all it's doing is holding a reed, and the less expensive ones do that as well. But my old one didn't have the shaping around the section that slides over the reed, that was fitted to not just be a circular clamp that has to tighten itself into an oblong shape to hold the reed. Clearly this is better designed, which probably where the price differences come in. But my sax sounds fine with this, it looks nice, and I have a cap finally to help keep my reeds from getting broken.

Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate
Pinnacle Studio 18 Ultimate
Price: $129.53
18 used & new from $123.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still my favorite DVD authoring software 8 years after I first used it, November 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been using Pinnacle Studio for about 8 or 9 years. I first found it when I was looking for ways to convert some camcorder video of my then 3 year old to a DVD for family members who wanted it. And after doing some due diligence back then, Pinnacle Studio was the one I ended up going with. And I've been happy with it ever since, although it's been a few years now since I've used it or installed it, as there has been less and less need for anything on disc now with everyone in my family becoming more computer savvy. But when this came up in the Vine program, I really wanted to try it to see how it's changed.

First note - it takes forEVER to install, even on an SSD. There's a ton of things, and file copies for a lot of smaller files is never going to be a speedy process (just watch the OS calculations for time remaining as you copy a 5GB single file compared to, say, 1GB of small files). I did the full install, since having remembered the extras and animations and such that were options in the previous versions I've used, I knew I wanted to see it all. And the installer will automatically will toss in the direct X update if it senses it needs it without halting the install or making you go back to try again. I like installers that do that, rather than complain that a prerequisite is missing, then end and force you to go install whatever the prereq is, then start the install again.

Install completed, it asked for my serial and activation, and I though all was well (since this install was on my main system, a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga that's running the Windows 10 tech preview), until even before the install completed, I got the error:

"The operating system has been upgraded after Studio has been installed. Some or all of the program's features may not operate correctly. We recommend that you re-install the software."

Nothing was changed and nothing was even RAN during the install. All other programs had been closed. A quick google search showed this apparently is an issue with various versions of theirs, and the fix is to make changes to compatibility mode. Unfortunately I had already tried all options there, and still no joy. Clearly this is not going to work on Windows 10. Which really stunk, since this is my main system, the most current, something I use all the time. The only option I had now was to install it on a rather old Dell Studio Hybrid that is running Windows 7, but was actually released when Vista was the newest OS. So it's long in the tooth, short on horsepower. That install took about the same amount of time at least (I also upgraded that to an SSD) and this time I was able to actually launch the program.

I felt mostly at home right off the bat. Having used their software in the past, I kind of had a head start on finding where things were and what to do. And I have to say, even without that history, learning this would've been even easier than the version I started with.

I love how simple it is to select your videos, arrange them as the tracks on a DVD, modify them, cut parts out, build menus and the various effects you can use for transitions. There really is nothing that's as quick and painless as this program. So even years later the current version still justifies my choice I made way back then.

It's the extras that really make it shine though. Pinnacle Studio has always been good at coming up with packages that have some really good content for you to customize things as you go. Whether it's various fonts, dissolve effects, menu templates, sound effects, whatever you need to make a fun DVD with your videos, they always delivered. And the content here is no different. Plenty of things to choose from to get just the right look and feel.

I only have Blu-Ray readers, so I couldn't master any Blu-Ray discs, just DVD discs. But it worked as simply and flawlessly as the ones I did in 2006. I lined up the videos I wanted, made the menu system and background for the DVD menus that will display, tweaked transitions, and viola, I had a really nice DVD.

I see a few people reviewed it talking about a learning curve, but I honestly don't see that for most of the use. For needs like mine, it's about as intuitive and simple as you can get to put your videos into a menu driven DVD and burn it to disc. I don't do advanced video editing so there may be complexity there that I'm simply ignorant of, but for me this software just works, seemed logically laid out, and doesn't take long at all to make something that you can be proud to hand out to family members.

One place I found this as a REALLY useful program is when you need to make some kind of a visual memorial for someone's funeral. Selecting photos and setting a looping slideshow to music is very easy to do here.

And the 64 bit is just another bonus so you can take better advantage of current hardware.

Depending on your needs, you can save a chunk of money going with the basic version, but for me, I prefer having all the options and extras since while I don't make discs often, when I do, I really like to have all the choices for everything. I remember the first DVD I ever made, I spent FAR more time looking through all the extras than I ever spent actually CREATING the disc. And some of those things actually will prompt your creativity, and you will likely find inspiration with some of them. I know a few of the discs I made in the past I wouldn't have bothered with except some of the templates or styles were just so perfect for something that I had to find the right videos to match them.

If you're a hobbyist like me, this is a perfect program since it gives more advanced control over every aspect of things compared to most of the "non professional" programs out there, but it's still easy enough for a novice to work with to create some really awesome content.

Fire TV Stick
Fire TV Stick
Price: $39.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Finally made it worth my while to stream from my Prime account..., November 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Fire TV Stick (Electronics)
I've been an Amazon Prime member since its inception, but I don't use it for anything other than the free 2 day shipping. Despite my iPads, windows tablets, Windows PC's, media center PC's, or any phones I've had, I've not done any streaming.

I thought I'd try this since I had a half price deal on it pre-launch. I figured I'd use it in my son's bedroom on his TV that is in there for his Xbox. He could use it for the cartoons and such available on the Prime subscription.

It arrived, and setup was freakishly easy. It ran a semi long update right out of the box, so despite being brand new and just delivered after release, they clearly are trying to fix issues and push updates as needed. That's always a good sign, as long as the fixes don't break something else.

My big requirement for this was that I could lock purchases. I didn't want my 11 year old inadvertently trying to watch something that wasn't free with Prime and suddenly seeing a bill at the end of the month. But the initial setup didn't offer any options other than parental controls on / off. I turned them on, and it annoyingly forced us to enter my pin every time he changed to a different show. I finally found in the settings the option for not requiring it for prime videos, but still requiring it for purchases.

I've had a Kindle Fire HD that I gave away the day after I purchased it because I just couldn't stand the carousel they use. It's such a pain to get at anything after the ease of Windows devices and Apple devices. And while this does a great job streaming music that is in my Amazon account, it's that annoying carousel thing again, which makes it a pain even for my modest 300 or so songs I've purchased through Amazon. I hate having to scroll through EVERYTHING to get at something. So it's this same kind of interface here that made me take a star off.

The navigation otherwise isn't too bad for the normal things. Different types on the left such as TV shows, movies, music, photos, and as you pick one, the options on the right side expand within that subject. My son had no problem finding some of the nickelodeon shows he likes to watch.

Streaming was stutter free, no sync problems for audio/video. Pictures were crisp and clear, although he was watching his cartoons and such, I haven't tried it on any higher quality movies and such yet. But so far, for the price, it's been impressive.

Remote works without any line of sight to the stick behind the TV so it's a wireless remote of some sort, not IR. That's a benefit considering the placement.

The USB charger wall wart is very small, and even fit between two other things on the power strip I've got it plugged into, so that's a nice design compared to most wall warts.

It came pre-attached to my account, although it did offer to let me use a different account during setup. I'm just glad I remembered the pin code I set ages ago, since that's what it needs, not any password.

All told, for the half off price I paid, this was a total no brainer purchase. It works well, other than the carousel annoyance of Amazon's interface, and the fact that you can just unplug it and take it somewhere else is a very good feature.

For someone who has gone all this time without streaming (despite so many of my devices supporting it, like the Xboxes and Playstations and such) I'm beginning to see the value in it, when you're getting it for free as a side benefit to something you already bought. If you have prime, and you have kids, it's worth far more than the pennies it ends up costing to purchase.

Moen LR2354DBN Grab Bar with Corner Shelf, Nickel
Moen LR2354DBN Grab Bar with Corner Shelf, Nickel
Price: $34.11
11 used & new from $19.74

4.0 out of 5 stars I like it, but don't like the large gap in the bracket covers, November 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was a bit torn about this. There's some things I like, and others I don't.

The anchors - I don't like using anchors where I have alternatives. Especially with an 11 year old in the house who has a tendency to grab on things that aren't really there to support his weight. So I was a bit happy that I didn't have to drill the large holes for these anchors. I was fortunate enough to have studs in the right areas of the corner of my shower insert, so I was able to use some sturdy wood screws to hold it in place without any real fears of how well it's attached. This only comes with what is needed to use the anchors, so if you do like me, you have to buy screws yourself.

The install was simple enough, but the covers for the bracket's mounting points aren't as good as I would have expected. The hole cut in them to allow them to fit over the pipe is a good bit larger than the pipe, and leaves a much more noticeable gap than I'd have wanted in something like this. I would guess they don't make it smaller to help alleviate scratching of the surface, but I'd rather know I have to move it carefully to avoid scratching and have a cleaner, more "closed" look to these covers, than have what the option here is.

I had no issues fitting the shelf, and I liked the angled outer edge, to help keep things from sliding between the plastic shelf and the metal bar above its edge.

It looks good, and matched the fixtures I had in here since I prefer the brushed metal looks to help alleviate fingerprints to some degree compared to the shiny chrome style finishes. It holds our "manly" soap (how my son refers to our Axe body soap) and his shampoo and a bar of soap just fine. Much nicer than leaving things on the edge of the tub as I had done previously, balancing on the edge.

I wasn't quite sure if I should go with three or four stars for it, since I took one star away for the gaps in the bracket covers, but didn't know if I should take one away for the insanely large anchor units or not. All told I'd probably rate this 3.5 if I could, but since I have to go with whole star numbers, I'll give it four, since while the large anchors are really big, and force people who need them to cut seriously large holes in their walls, at least they're quite solid and look like they will do a decent job of holding things where they should be.

And at the current time, they are not quite half off of their list price, so it makes it a great deal at that price point.

STIGA Evolution Table Tennis Racket
STIGA Evolution Table Tennis Racket
Price: $57.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely different than the junk that they give away with tables., November 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Unlike many people here, I'm not a "life long ping pong player" type of person. I played when I was a kid at a friend's house sometimes, and randomly here and there in adult life. I'm not "good" I'm just "normal" and I'm well aware of that.

I've seen people play games that just blew me away. And every once in a while I'd try to get some spin on the ball, and as a "normal" person, that usually ended up with me launching the ball somewhere not even close to the table surface.

So I thought I'd see what this could do for a typical non table tennis person.

It was a bit of a shock opening it up. After a lifetime of the junk paddles that come with the tables, this was the first time I've actually held something of quality. And it's an immediate, visceral reaction. You can tell this isn't one of those junk paddles you've held forever. You want to start hitting things with it...

The faces of the paddle are just light years past what I'm accustomed to. The handle is well contoured, but I was actually a bit disappointed that there was nothing for "grip" here. But that's most likely just my ignorance of the advanced playing abilities that people who would use this have. I'm assuming that it's that way so they can quickly change grip, flip the racket 180 degrees and use the other face. And even in my novice hands, it's a quick task to flip from one face to the other.

The wood isn't lacquered or anything, you feel the actual grain, especially on the sides of the grip where you can see the cuts that shaped it. It's well sanded and doesn't feel "snaggy" but it does give you a non slick surface to help with the grip.

Needless to say, my game went immediately south using this. Which is a good thing, since clearly this is a completely different style of racket than the junk I'm used to. It feels different, the ball responds different, and you can just feel that if you were BETTER at the game, you'd be able to do more with it.

I'm curious to see how things progress with me now. I've managed to do some return shots with, for me, amazing spin. While my game has suffered (not that it really COULD suffer much) it's suffered in the same way that an ice skater would suffer when they stop using balsa wood for blades and get real blades... There's an adjustment to make, and if I spend enough time to actually practice, I can see that now there's finally something to grow into.

I really wish I hung around with people who played this game well, since I'd then have a chance to learn to use this more to its limits. But I'll say, even for the generic player like myself, it's something that does make the game feel more like an adult sport with skill, and less like a "whack the ball" kid's game that I grew up with.

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