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

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Samsung NX3000 Wireless Smart 20.3MP Compact System Camera with 16-50mm OIS Power Zoom Lens and Flash (Brown)
Samsung NX3000 Wireless Smart 20.3MP Compact System Camera with 16-50mm OIS Power Zoom Lens and Flash (Brown)
Price: $499.00
4 used & new from $459.22

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beat my Sony NEX-3N, July 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I like that this Samsung uses the smaller Micro SD cards, since I'm not a professional, and I don't need huge card capacity. But for people who want that capacity, this is a negative, since the Micro SD cards are notably more expensive at the 128GB size since they're still very new to the market.

I also like the hot shoe on top, since that's not often found on digital cameras. And the default flash that they give with the camera is really quite amazing for a "normal" camera user like myself. It fills beautifully, much more than the built in flashes in my other three digital cameras (Nikon, Sony, and Fujitsu). One thing that really makes this nicer to use than many of the other digital cameras with built in flash is that you don't have to hit a menu item to enable/disable the flash. You just lift it to the active position, and the flash is enabled if needed. Lower it, and it's turned off, period. The raising/lowering feels nice and solid as well, this doesn't feel like something that's going to fall apart in a month or two.

I've got two smaller "point and click" digital cameras, my Fujitsu and my Nikon. They were used more often when I had my iPhone that had lacked a good built in camera. I used my Sony with my multiple lenses for when I wanted to do something a little more "serious" - when I wanted the best quality I could have with my gear. However, I have since replaced my iPhone with a Lumia Icon that has a built in 20 megapixel camera, so the other point and shoots have sat in my bag, batteries losing power, since my phone now could take really, really good photos on its own. I had no need for anything other than my larger Sony.

This camera is poised to replace that (provided I want to purchase another 80 - 210 zoom for this to maintain the Sony's functionality).

The Fujitsu I have was supposed to be designed for wifi use - the app on my iPhone was supposed to allow some photo sharing opportunities as well as getting GPS information and actual control of the camera. However, that app really didn't work well at all for me.

Timer and drive options - you can pick single shot, continuous, or timer. Timer gives you increments from 2 to 30 seconds in 1 second intervals to choose from.

Photo size: The 20MP size is a 3:2 format, 5472x3648. The largest 16:9 format is a 16.9 MP size, 5472x3080. Then there are the 1:1 ratio options, largest being a 13.9 MP size, and 3648 square. There are four options for each ratio, down to 2 MP sizes for all the first two formats and a 1.1 MP size for the smallest 1:1 ratio.

There are options for manual focus assist, anti-shake, flash (i.e. the smart flash or simply OFF). In other photo modes you get more flexibility, from off, to fill in, fill in red, 1st curtain (discharges the flash when the shutter first opens), second curtain (discharges the flash just before it closes, so it's a visible effect for slow shutter speeds below 1/30th of a second).
And yet another lets you set the flash intensity.

Movie sizes are full HD (1080), lower HD (720), VGA, and a 240 web version for sharing.

The only movie options are "Normal" and "HQ." You have four fader options, off, in, out, and in-out. You can also enable or disable voice recording.

You can choose Adobe RGB or sRGB color spaces.

There's an option for the Mobile Link / NFC to use the original size, or to always resize the shared file to 2M or lower.

Grid lines, AF lamp, have options to disable or enable as well, and you can change the lens button speed settings for how fast you want the zoom to move.

Fortunately you can turn off the button sound as well (a feature I always like).

Preview lets you pick No preview, 1, 3, and 5 seconds, or permanent hold until you hit a button to close the preview of the last shot.

Display controls include a horizontal calibration, something I've not seen before on any of the more than a dozen cameras I've gone through. There's also the normal display brightness, an auto brightness on/off option, and the display color that lets you calibrate the display to your liking. The auto display off lets you pick always on, 30 seconds, 1, 3, 5, and 10 minute intervals. Quite a choice compared to my other cameras.

Auto Power Off is also disabled, 1, 3, 5, 10, and 30 minute options.

The help guide display is well done - if you know what you're doing and move through the menus, you won't see it. It only comes up after you pause on an option, then a small window overlays the menu showing you details of that option. I like it since with a new camera, many of the things are obvious, but many aren't, so this lets you see quick details about options you may not be familiar with. But it can be disabled also. My Sony NEX also had the same pause / help feature, so it's something I have become used to and I like seeing it here.

NTSC and PAL for video out options.

It also supports Anynet+ for those of you with Samsung equipment. And the HDMI out is anywhere from 1080i, 720p, 576p, and 480p.

You can pick if the filename is the standard, or have it use the shooting date in the filename (i.e. MMDD_File number). You can also reset the file number series here to reset it back to 0001.

Folder type is standard or based by date.

When navigating your photos, the rotating dpad lets you either spin it clockwise or counter clockwise to move the focus, or just hit the direction U/D/L/R. Hitting up while looking at a photo will give you details about it - date, flash, focal length, ISO, etc. Hitting up again gives you the Historgram as well with separate graphs for R, G, B, and Y. Pushing down on the selector will put you into thumbnail mode. It's actually quite simple and easy to navigate your photos with this, more so that the other cameras I have.

When viewing your photos, you can filter them by date or file type as well to cut down on wading through them if you have a lot on that card. And you can select thumbnails, 5x3 or 7x4 grids. What I like about that is you don't have to get into the menu to change that if you don't want, when viewing thumbnails just hitting the FN button will change it back and forth.

Now on to use. I really like the shutter button. The first detent position to auto focus and such is a solid feeling stop - it doesn't interfere with pressing to take the photo, but you can "find" that spot easily and never worry about taking a photo if you hadn't planned on it at that point. It really feels nice, almost like an old foil style bubble type button press to get to the autofocus point. The shutter button itself is raised slightly and convex, so there's no problems feeling it or having it sink "below" the plane of the top surface like some cameras I've had, that felt more like hitting a reset button that was slightly recessed than hitting a shutter button.

My immediate dislike is the position on the lens for the zoom button. That immediately limits me to how I can hold and use the camera. It just feels really awkward on this very short lens, and I usually find myself overreaching and putting my finger in front of the lens when I'm not paying attention. I far prefer that zoom control on the body. However, I can already see where this is a useful way to do it, since you can take photos WHILE zooming in and out, not having to zoom to the desired level, then use that finger to press the shutter, then move it to zoom some more, etc. So while I dislike it a great deal, that's not because it's a BAD idea - it's just something I'm not at all used to. It may turn out that I'll have it down pat in no time, then complain when I change to one of my other systems. But that was one nice thing with my Sony - I could zoom either by rotating the collar on the lens, OR by using a zoom switch by the shutter. Between the two, I'd far prefer if the zoom was rotating a collar as I was used to in my old 35mm days, rather than a rocking switch on the lens to push and pull. But this is strictly a matter of personal preference, so others may find what this has is the ideal solution for them. But as long as your fingers are there, they've put an additional button there, the i-Function button, that you can customize for things such as adjusting the aperture, shutter speed, exposure, ISO, or white balance. And you can change which it selects on the fly as well. What I like with this integration is that when you press it, the focus ring then becomes the way to select the option, and it's like stepping through each option, just stop rotating when you hit the desired setting. It actually works surprisingly well. Unfortunately I'm not THAT much into the details of photography anymore, my darkroom days are 30 years behind me, now I'm just into the photos of my 10 year old son and places we go, so I'm usually in Auto. But there are options on here for people far more knowledgeable than I to take advantage of to get just the right shot.

I do love the feel of the camera. I wish it had a small rubberized part on the back for the thumb, I've loved that extra feeling of security on the cameras I've had that did that. But this has a nice raised part to help the thumb hold the camera up, and the front isn't just plastic, it's the same slightly textured colored wrap that the back has, so there's a little more feeling of a secure grip on the front as well, compared to models that just have smooth plastic up there. But the Sony NEX series has a bit more of a finger grip raised section in front that adds to the stability there more than this one offers.

The lens comes off and on easily as well. At least, it does once you stop trying to twist the wrong spot. I'm used to cameras where the camera body front is flat, and the lens is the ONLY part projecting out. This has a collar at the base of the lens that is permanently here, so you have to grip the lens farther away from the body of the camera to twist. The first time I was trying to remove it, I was swearing to myself since I didn't want to FORCE it, but it just wasn't MOVING.

Just hitting the rotating Dpad also lets you get at quick setting things, such as ISO, white balance, even whether the autofocus focuses once and that's it, or if it's continuous so as you move it automatically keeps adjusting focus (or just turning it off altogether). And pressing it up lets you cycle through view modes on the display, from empty to basic info, even getting that horizon gauge in there, so you can see it turn red if your camera is tilted to one side or the other. Also you can have it pop up a standard single graph histogram that is dynamic and changes as the scene does. Pressing it to the left gives you the drive mode, single, continuous, burst, timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, P Wiz bracket, or depth bracket. And the help function operates here as well when you're in shooting mode, when you pause on an option, the window pops up giving you a brief explanation.

Unlike some cameras, hitting the Playback button when the camera is off does *NOT* send it straight into playback mode, you MUST turn the power on first.

Continuous mode takes a photo every second here when I was testing, and since I was in a dark room with no lights in it except the slight spillover from the next room over, it flashed every second as well. So the flash at least isn't lagging behind.

When previewing things I've done in burst mode or in continuous mode, those things are shown as a single thumbnail, so it's not like that 15 photo burst I took is all wasting space in the thumbnail preview. It shows the one image, and you can "enter" that image and browse the various components of them just like browsing a different subfolder. This setting also can be changed if you prefer seeing them all in the preview by default.

Speaking of Burst - it's a 30 photo burst, and you can pick how it happens - 10 shots per second for 3 seconds, 15 shots per second for 2 seconds, or a single 30 photo burst in one second. When shooting "continuous" rather than burst, you can go 5 shots per second.

If you leave the flash on there, even closed and unused, then you can't pivot the display up. It can only pivot 155 to 160 or so degrees, not the full 180.

The panorama mode lets you go automatically in any of four directions, it senses what you're doing and gives you the appropriate graphic. Unlike some others I've had where you picked if you were going to the left or right BEFORE you started the shot (and didn't have any up or down options at all).

Scene mode has a lot of presets for things from fireworks to beauty face, fireworks, sunset, silhouettes, waterfall, etc.

There's an auto self shot mode where you can enable/disable an automatic 3 second timer and face detection that can be turned on automatically when you're doing selfies. There's both a "smile mode" and a "wink mode" where it waits for you to smile / wink, and that's the thing that starts a 2 second timer for self portraits and such. When it's flipped around to see the display from the front, it shows a large countdown number so you know just when it will snap. The smile detection doesn't detect the curve of the mouth, but teeth. I can smile all day with my mouth closed and it's clueless, but as soon as it sees teeth, it counts down for the shot. Winking I had mostly good luck with as long as it was focused right and I waited till it could clearly see the wink. It's not a quick wink, but a .5 to 1 second wink that's needed to kick off the countdown timer. I assume that's done so someone simply blinking in the wind doesn't keep setting it off unintentionally.

From the preview screen, edit options are: rotate and resize photos, adjust color, brightness, contrast, saturation, RGB, exposure. If it's a photo, there's a face retouch option as well as red eye fix. There are smart filter options for vignetting, miniature, soft focus, sketch, fish eye, classic, retro, oil painting, cartoon, ink painting, cross filter, and zooming shot.

Wireless options are frustrating as usual for a Windows phone user. I like this Lumia Icon MUCH better than my iPhone 5s, but the big downfall with Windows is the store isn't as fleshed out as Apple's is yet. Sure Apple started out with squat too, but now when a developer has an option to write an app, odds are it'll get done on IOS due to the number of users. I wish more companies supported the Windows mobile platform, but Samsung is doing the same thing with this camera that Logitech did with my security system and Ecobee did with my Thermostat and UFO did with my power strip - making me unable to use my phone with them like I could with the iPhone. But apparently without their software on the phone I can't use NFC that my phone *DOES* support.

There are other options though, and when I connected the camera to my home's wireless network, it found my Samsung 55" LED 3D TV right away as a DLNA device to play back to via the wireless. Oddly enough, when it was searching my home network for devices, it also checked for any firmware updates for itself and notified me there's an update available from the website. It can't download directly and install though, must be done via USB from a computer. But the TV found the camera right away as a source and slideshows and manual maneuvering through movies or photos was flawless. Again, this is at least a Samsung TV so it's nice to see they made themselves work with their own equipment, but since this is DLNA it should work with any TV that supports it.

I really like that when you connect the camera, the software (i-launcher) is built into it, so you don't need a CD or something. The first time you connect to the camera with USB, you see another drive on your computer, one with the software there to install. It detects that it's not already installed and offers to install it. It's the small things like this that really make me feel warm fuzzies for tech companies. Are the developers lazy or do they do things to make the end user's life easier? After all, all this technology is supposed to make our lives easier and better, not more frustrating. I installed the software and it immediately offered to upgrade the firmware. It also gave me the "auto backup" software option, which I fired up. The firmware update runs off the camera itself, so you have to disconnect from the computer after it copies it to the camera. You can find it under the gear icon and "device information" where you have the options for body and lens firmware updates. In this case, only the body was updated. However, once it's updated, it leaves that upgrade there and you can select to "upgrade from 1.01 to 1.01?" again. There was no lens upgrade at this time apparently. But I do like that their PC software will check for firmware updates, rather than how most cameras rely on you remembering at some point to look for yourself.

One thing I love about my Sony HDR-PJ790V camcorder is the wireless copy to my computer. But that involves a dongle that has to go into the hot shoe, and on the Mac was nearly impossible to get to work (although when I switched back to Windows last winter, the setup was much easier.) This one, with the built in wireless, makes it a snap. I had no issues. When I installed their software, it asked me what to call my computer, the "backup up server." When I selected the auto backup then from the camera, once it was on my wireless network, it found my computer and the copy started instantly. You can pick original or <2MB file sizes for this, but since I move everything from my cameras to my computer, not just copy, I don't want the downsized versions. It took about 5 seconds per photo (highest MP version of the 4:3 so the biggest it makes) on my 802.11ac network. It's only an 802.11 b/g/n adapter in the camera though, but that's plenty of speed for me for what I need it to do. The PC notifies you when it's finished with the copy, and the camera also does, and also automatically turns itself off (although you can cancel that). Clearly the Samsung has Sony beat hands down for the wireless copy to the computer.

The door for the HDMI / USB connection is a mixed bag. It's spring loaded, so there's no detent that holds it in place. And it's a thumbnail slit, not anything protruding out of the surface to grab. This means it sits flush, which I love. I hate having small protrusions to open flaps or doors. But that "held closed by the spring only" thing is a bit of a bother for me, since for stuff like this, it's usually the spring that fails / breaks / comes out of position, and then there's nothing to hold the door shut.

Battery life has been astonishing. In my first session of testing, lasting a few hours, I took maybe 120 or so photos, had wireless going, did updates, file transfers of all those photos, played with the wireless output to my TV, and worked through all the menus for about 45 or 50 minutes to learn what all the options are, as well as what different quick jumps you can do with the D pad in different shooting modes. And the battery didn't lose a bar that whole time. Granted, it may have been siting at 70% when I was finished, and just not got down enough to lose the first of three bars, but still, I would've expected it to be under 50% at least, more likely down to the last bar indicating under 33% left with everything I was doing, the wireless, file copies, flash photos at night, etc...

I had been to a shareholder meeting for the Green Bay Packers this week, and took it up there with me to test and compare to my Sony NEX-3N that has been my "go to" camera when I wasn't just going to use my 20MP Lumia Icon phone. And I have to say that in every respect, the Samsung beat it out. The photos weren't hugely noticeably better or anything, but things just looked a little better in the side by side shots I did. But it was even more that this one just FEELS better to use (other than the zoom that I have to get used to). This feels more "solid" and as I said above, I really think this is the best shutter button I've ever had on any of the digital cameras I've ever owned. The menus are well laid out and the "quick" options you can select with the dpad or even the iFN button on the lens are better done here than on the Sony in my opinion. The things I wanted to change or play with were quicker to get at and change. But one problem I have is that I change cameras so often, that I never get any system "down pat" before I move on, and that's why this one just felt better for me, since I was able to find things quicker than usual.

I loved the Sony for low light, and this one did not disappoint at all either. Night time, sun has set long ago, only one not bright light in a ceiling fan in another room, and the photos I took in the dark great room here that's very dark to the eye look more like daytime levels in the photos. And when I was testing the selfie modes, that sole light source for the house was behind my head, leaving my face in shadow, yet without the flash (since you can't do those with the flash on) my face still looked well lit, especially considering the light behind me. I expected it to be more like the silhouette you get when photographing someone in front of a bright window but it was able to get enough reflected light from the light behind me and a computer screen off to my side to illuminate me well.

By this point I was all set to think this was my new "go to" digital camera, with no serious faults to be found. But then I tested video. I had a musical playing on the TV and in surround sound, and I walked all around my house with both cameras held so I could directly compare not just how well they focused as I moved around the dimly lit house (I did this after 10 PM and only had a couple can lights in the ceiling on so it was not well lit at all) but how well the LCD displays compared to the actual view as I walked around. And as I got closer to the great room with the music, I moved around some, turned left to right, to see how the sound would carry as the relative position changed to the camera.

And to say I was very disappointed in this new Samsung would be an understatement.

First off, as I walked, despite the fact that the low level photography was on par if not better than the Sony, the display while in movie mode was much darker on the Samsung. I could see more of the unlit rooms that I aimed at in the Sony's screen than I could in the Samsung's. The Sony focused wonderfully, at NO point in my wandering, through halls or the great room, dining room, or kitchen, did the Sony lose focus on anything near or far. The things in the viewfinder looked a bit brighter than they did to the naked eye, since it always did so well in low light. This Samsung, on the other hand, spent about 3/4 the time out of focus. The screen while walking around looked much less crisp than when just doing photos. It was darker. And colors didn't look nearly as well represented as they did on the Sony, they were just too muddled on the Samsung. Now, when doing additional testing to see if the Sony had the same brightness difference in the display between photos and movie modes, I saw that the Sony's screen also dims slightly. But it's just a bit, not something I ever noticed before, but only saw now because I was explicitly trying to see if it did it. So it has the same issue, just not NEARLY to the same degree as the Samsung.

Then it came time to play back the movies. I had both going side by side simultaneously, and noted a big difference in the sound levels. Despite both being held at near the same position, making sure that neither was somehow interfering or blocking the other's microphone input, the Sony seemed to have a crisper and clearer reproduction of the music that was playing in the other room. The Samsung's recording of the sound was more muted and muddled. Both did well with the stereo though, as I moved through the house and around the TV, you could clearly hear that transition from L to R and back again as I moved. But the Sony wins for sound, hands down.

All this was done at the full 1080 setting for both cameras, with quality on highest setting as well.

Despite the poor view I had on the LCD screen on the Samsung while recording, where everything seemed to be constantly out of focus, the final video wasn't QUITE as bad as it had seemed from the screen's display, but there was still focus issues over half the time, and at no point did I have those issues with the Sony in the same situation. However, I had far less pixilation while panning and moving with the Samsung than the Sony did. But the discrepancy in the low light between movie and still photo was stunning. Especially when I had the TV in view, the whole rest of the room dimmed considerably due to the contrast, but the Sony maintained a better light level for the rest of the room with little impact due to the brightness of the TV compared to the unlit rest of that corner of the room.

I'm glad I have a high end camcorder for when I want to do movies, since both of these cameras do great for photos, not so great for movies, and each has a weakness the other doesn't have, so I'd be hard pressed to pick one over the other. If it was going to involve a lot of motion on MY part while filming, such as walking and panning, I'd probably go with the Samsung since it suffers less pixilation on the edge of items as you're doing those things. Fortunately, I don't use my digital cameras for movies, since my bag has everything in it, and if I'm going to shoot a movie, I get the digital camcorder out for it. But since this is advertised as something good for movies, I'm taking a star off for the lackluster performance in my testing.

All told, this is really an excellent camera for someone at my experience level. I feel it out performed the Sony NEX camera in just about everything other than movie making. And if it weren't for the focus issues, I would've counted it the winner there as well despite the sound being less and the low light causing issues, simply because things didn't seem to blur and pixelate like they did in the Sony. I prefer the menu system in the Samsung as well. Things were just easier to get at, and quicker to find, and it has more options that a NORMAL person like me would use, they weren't all just higher level tech settings for people who know far more than I do about photography. The shutter button is just wonderful, and it is really noticeable when you change to another camera then. I was surprised at how quickly I adapted and came to expect that feel all the time.

For the feature set, the incredible ease of getting things copied wirelessly to my laptop, and the quality of the photos, this earns a solid four stars, no questions asked. I'm disappointed that Windows Phone doesn't have any options here, but I'm also used to it with the newer phone platform, since most hardware I have lacks the Windows phone apps. That means that I get no GPS or location data in the photos as I could have were I still using my iPhone, but I can live with that. The accessory shoe is a nice feature, something only my high end camcorder has - all my other digital cameras lacked this feature. It's nice to see it here and I hope Samsung comes out with more options for it (like a GPS) than they currently have.

So if you're like me, a person who just wants to take really nice photos around the house, or on vacation, or of family members, kids, and pets, this is a great camera for that.

Heininger 5081 GarageMate HeavyRoller Personal Hand Truck
Heininger 5081 GarageMate HeavyRoller Personal Hand Truck
Price: $113.02

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice unit just pricey, July 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I almost didn't get this item, since I have a similar one already, but then I noted this was a larger item compared to the one I have, so I thought I'd give my smaller one to my mom and try this one out.

Immediately I was struck by the quality difference. This is a larger and sturdier one than I have. With my smaller one fully extended, the handle has some "twist" to it when you turn your wrist. This one, there's no play in the handle. You turn your wrist, and there is no movement.

I prefer the release on the smaller one I have as it's a lever right beneath the handle that's pulled with the fingers as you're holding the handle, so I can extend and collapse it with just one hand. This one is a bit more of a pain since you don't get that option. The button to release it is fixed on the lower part of the handle assembly that doesn't move, so you have to use two hands to change the handle position. The smaller one also has three positions - fully collapsed, half extended, then fully extended. This one has no middle option, strictly fully collapsed and fully extended.

The telescoping handle works well though, no binding or hanging at any point up or down.

The larger wheels make it a little more stable as well, and that's most notable when going up or down steps and such. This one does that MUCH better than the other one I have.

The lower surface pivots out easily but is still tight enough that there's no wiggle at all in either position. Pivoting it down also pivots out the wheels as all these collapsible hand trucks do, and I've had no problems whatsoever with that.

It's handled large loads without any issues, and stacked boxes worked better on this than the smaller one I have, since the handle is wider, so there's a larger area for the boxes to lean against while you're pulling things around. The smaller one, if the boxes were big, was more prone to boxes "tipping" off if I went up or down a stair and didn't get it quite exact, and had one wheel hit before the other, causing the box to tip around the handle some. This one, that extra width for the bars coming up kept anything like that from happening.

Both have the same bump pattern on the bottom to help provide some traction for the things you're carrying, yet allowing enough slip so when you tip your load you can slide this underneath.

There's really nothing I can find here that I can think could be improved at this size other than the release button. After the ease of using my smaller one, this is a bit of a disappointment. But this is almost five times as expensive as the smaller one I have, and
I'm not sure that the much higher cost is worth the extra 125 lbs. the bigger one is rated for.

Nothing in Common [Blu-ray]
Nothing in Common [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Tom Hanks
Price: $9.99
23 used & new from $9.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite movies from the 80's, July 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I first saw this on VHS back in the 80's when I was stationed out in Germany. Tom Hanks wasn't nearly as big (no pun intended) then as now, and I still thought of him first from "Bosom Buddies" back then. Gleason does a great job as the cranky curmudgeon old father, and Hanks plays what was, for him at that time, his signature goofy smart alec persona.

There's some great laughs in it, but it's really a great emotional movie as well, it covers quite a bit of ground. This is one of the first movies I remember seeing that really fit the "emotional rollercoaster" description.

The quality of video and sound was better than I had anticipated considering how long ago it was made.

All told, it's a great deal for a great movie. This is one of the movies from the 80's I was very happy to see come out in Blu-ray so I could add a good HQ version to my movie collection.

Muppets Most Wanted
Muppets Most Wanted
Price: $11.88
56 used & new from $4.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the songs in the movie, July 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Muppets Most Wanted (Audio CD)
My son and I saw the movie, enjoyed the music, and I got this for him since I always get him the soundtrack from the animated movies he likes. So we learned the songs by heart from listening to this, then the next time we watched the movie, we realized the movie doesn't have the full lyrics for all the songs. And parts of what they skip (i.e. in "We're doing a Sequel", one line not in the movie was, "How hard can it be? We can't do any worse than the Godfather 3.") can be pretty funny lines. Another one with some good missing parts was the Interrogation song. It's noticeably longer in the soundtrack than in the movie.

So if you liked the music, the album is actually better since a few of the songs are actually longer with more verses.

The sound quality is great, which is important when you have a 10 year old who wants to listen to it over and over while driving everywhere, including a 2 1/2 hour drive to go up north.

The booklet is well done inside as well, full lyrics for the songs, and some great quality photos to go along with the songs.

All told, a great purchase if you or your kids are a fan of the songs.

Timuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack, OS, Diablo
Timuk2 Command Laptop TSA-Friendly Backpack, OS, Diablo
Price: $129.00
2 used & new from $129.00

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More negatives than positives for my use, July 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a lot of laptop bags, backpacks, and cases that I've gone through trying to find whatever ends up being the best one. My current favorite has lasted longer than most, my STM messenger bag. It has plenty of individual small storage spots for things like USB sticks, portable hard drives, external CD drives, portable chargers, cables, etc... For me that's the most critical thing in a laptop carrying bag of any type. If all I want is a way to carry the laptop by itself with nothing more than a power cable, I can do that with a cheap, small padded sleeve. If I want a bag where I have to throw everything into a single compartment then dig through it trying to find something every time I need it, I can buy just about any backpack that has a padded sleeve. Finding something that's useful to me or my clients is tough.

This one isn't the worst thing I ever have seen, but it's far from even middle of the road when compared to all the others I've tried. The whole "TSA friendly" concept that you can just unfold it but leave it in the bag is something I've never hit. Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, none of the other bags I've had have ever actually allowed this to happen. I've *ALWAYS* been told to pull the laptop out of the case and put it in a separate tray.

There is only one compartment that has any small storage slots - and none of them have any kind of top to fold down to hold things in them. There's only 3 sleeves in one of the compartments that are rather small and narrow, wouldn't fit any but one of my external drives (the small laptop type, not the larger 3.5" standard internal hard drive size).

So that leaves two full sized compartments for everything to just be shoved to mingle, leaving you to have to dig and find what you want, although they work well for clothes and such. But again, I'm looking for a laptop bag, not a suitcase. I have several suitcases for clothes, my laptop bag I just want something I can carry the things I need for my laptop, not a change of clothes.

Then there's the laptop sleeve itself, on the inside surface of the backpack right against the wearer's back. It's padded, but still a bit awkward with the solid rectangle of a laptop inside there. And there's not any padding on the bottom where the laptop edge would be resting on the floor. There's the folded over seam that forms the edge of the slot the laptop goes into, but it's not very protective. I'd hate to be setting it down and misjudge slightly how close to the ground I was when I set it down, since it just doesn't feel very safe down there.

It can be awkward getting the laptop in and out as well, since this is under the straps. They block the lower part of the opening.

It's well constructed though, the seams and stitching is top notch. And I really do like the color. But the small loop on top for carrying is just a web strap, no softness or padding for the times you're lugging it by that instead of over your shoulder.

All told, this just isn't something I'd carry my laptops around in. I'll stick with my Pelican and STM bags.

Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Pelican Gunship
Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Pelican Gunship
Price: $66.67
32 used & new from $64.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great representation of the Pelican, July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
We have all of the Halo Megabloks vehicles and ships. We built the other version of the pelican, and I thought that one was well done, but when we got to this one, it was a whole different result.

There are a few of the main pieces that are formed already, the intakes and such, that are a little more "true" than the other version. It's a solid build, it doesn't feel like anything's going to come off during play (and with a 10 year old son who builds these with me, trust me, they get played with).

We had no missing parts with this one, which isn't a big deal anyway since they have a website that automates getting missing pieces mailed to you.

The build was enjoyable, not overly challenging but not just a quick simple thing either. The wings ratchet but there's no play in them, and the ratcheting mechanism is solid, so they don't move at all on their own. There's enough moving parts on here to make it a fun toy for a 10 year old.

And a bonus was that it comes with some pieces that let you carry the Mantis or a warthog underneath it just like in the game. So that makes play time even more fun.

All told, it was a bargain at the list price, and a local brick and mortar has them at a 60% clearance for the last few weeks, and it's an absolute steal if you can find it on sale like that.

A must have for any Halo fan.

InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1.0 HP Household Garbage Disposer
InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1.0 HP Household Garbage Disposer
Price: $314.99
46 used & new from $274.04

5.0 out of 5 stars The gold standard of disposers, July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was replacing an older InSinkErator 555ss 3/4hp unit with this. I saw it on a gold box deal, and just couldn't pass it up. I had wanted to switch sides with my disposer anyway, so if I was going to pull it and redo both sides of the sink and all the pipes underneath, I may as well upgrade.

The install for the disposer itself was a piece of cake, my issue was the rest of the plumbing and making things fit. I also had to do extra work because the air gap for the dishwasher used to come into the down pipe from the sink basket, but since I changed sides and replaced the basket and disposal, now I had to run that line to the disposal instead. And, of course, that ended up being too short for where I had the outlet placed for this. I wanted the outlets coming out the front somewhere, so they wouldn't make things even worse for the pull out faucet hose that has to go up and down behind everything.

I purchased the power cable they sell for this as well, and that was just a breeze, everything laid out clearly, and everything tucked inside under the plate just fine. Took me about 90 seconds to have the power cable hooked up.

The quick release mount also makes it very easy to install, since you can install the collar and get that tightened, then you just hold this up under the sink, lift it up, and pivot it to screw the collar on to secure it.

After multiple trips to two different home stores over the course of two days, I finally got the lines completed and was able to test everything out, and when I finally fired this up, I was just flabbergasted. I have NEVER heard such a quiet disposer before. I thought it was quiet when I ran it with the cupboard doors opened while I was testing everything for leaks, but when I closed the cupboard after verifying no leaks, it's about as silent as you can get. It's actually making less noise than the water splashing in the sink.

I've not ran everything through it yet, but the things I have ran through it got chewed up quickly and quietly, and far faster than the previous one this replaced.

I like the rubber vibration mounts too - both the large flange that hooks up under the sink and the discharge pipe are rubber mounted, so the whole unit can wiggle without transmitting that vibration to everything else. I remember when I'd do dishes in the sink, after I pulled the drain to let the water out, I'd usually run the disposer as well while the water drained, just to help wash everything out. And when I first turned it on, the whole counter area by the sink would shake a bit as it spun up. This one, there's nothing. The sink, the surrounding countertop, everything feels completely different when this one is used compared to the previous one.

I got it for about a third of the "list" price, but Amazon hasn't had it at list price for years, usually they've got it about half the list price, and at that price or below, it's an absolute steal. Without a doubt, this is the best garbage disposer I've ever come across.

InSinkErator CRD-00 Power Cord Kit
InSinkErator CRD-00 Power Cord Kit
Price: $9.38
46 used & new from $4.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Glad I bought a new one rather than reuse the old, July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I picked up the InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1hp disposal on a gold box deal, and rather than pull the wires out of the 3/4 hp InSinkErator I was replacing, for the price I opted to go with the new one.

There's plenty of room inside to tuck these after you make the connections, and they make it perfectly clear what color from the disposal goes to the ribbed wire, and which goes to the smooth one.

Connections were quick and easy, everything fit just like it should, and it made it a breeze to get my new disposal running.

I was very happy with the price and the quality.

AmazonBasics High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable with Ethernet (6.5 Feet/2 Meters)
AmazonBasics High-Speed A to C Type, HDMI to Mini-HDMI Cable with Ethernet (6.5 Feet/2 Meters)
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Works great for me with TV and projector, July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I grabbed this so I would have something to connect my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga to a very nice compact 3M projector I keep in the back of my car. The laptop has the Mini-HDMI, so this was a perfect thing.

It worked perfectly every time, no signal issues or anything. I've only plugged it into one TV while traveling, and there again I had no issues with video and sound going to whatever it is plugging into.

Price was great compared to anything I could find locally, so it was a definite bargain for me.

bubba 52 oz mug red star
bubba 52 oz mug red star
Offered by Firefly Buys
Price: $15.98
2 used & new from $13.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Love this for my iced tea, much better than the previous Bubba Mug I had..., July 19, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: bubba 52 oz mug red star
This is my second Bubba mug. The first one I didn't care for, because there was a hole in the bottom that made cleaning it a pain, since water would get inside the bottom of the mug and even a day or two later after drying, still leave bits of water that would work out as you moved it around from table to mouth and back again.

This one has that same hole, but it's plugged. So I wonder if the one I had was a defect before.

The grip on this is just a little bit soft on the inside, so it's a little more comfortable than the other one I had been using that replaced my first Bubba mug, since that one was just solid plastic.

I like the lighter color since I use it to drink iced tea, and it's a lot easier to see when it needs a good cleaning.

It holds enough for me to be able to go an hour or two between refills, and it does a nice job of helping my tea keep cold.

I don't use the travel top or the straw, so I can't attest to those.

All told, this is my favorite large mug for iced tea I've ever found.

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