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JDThird "John" RSS Feed (Racine, WI United States)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

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TP-LINK AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (Touch P5)
TP-LINK AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (Touch P5)
Price: $149.99
31 used & new from $149.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The touch screen makes a huge difference in setup and management, April 28, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's larger than I had anticipated. Plan accordingly if you're going to have it somewhere with limited room.

The touchscreen setup is both good, and frustrating. When I was setting up the wireless on it, after everything for the 2.4GHz channel was all entered it changed to the 5GHz setting on its own and lost all the previous settings. Make sure you click "SAVE" a lot when using the touch screen even if it's not obvious what you're going to do is going to lose what you typed.

I'm used to firewall / routers for home class devices like this to only use the WAN port if you have it plugged into the actual cable modem or something. If you're "cheating" and using it as an access point, that's generally done just with the "switch" Ethernet ports, not the one dedicated for the internet. But this one, even in AP mode, will send all traffic out that even when it's not a router. So I had iPads and iPhones I was testing with that couldn't get to the internet since I had the network cable in one of the gigabit switch ports. Oddly enough, I was able to access the webpage to administrate the device at the IP I had hard coded, but nothing could access the internet then that was using this unit, only the local network. Once I moved it to the WAN port, I still had my local access at the local IP, but now internet worked as well.

Of course, nothing in the quick setup specifies anything about how to plug it in for AP mode, so had I followed the instructions I would've been fine (although then I would've been assuming that the unused WAN port wouldn't respond to the internal LAN address).

The touch screen worked well, I had no issues even with the keyboard when entering things like the crazy WPA key I use. Shifting between numbers and letters and typing everything in was pretty much flawless.

The UI on the touch screen is pretty intuitive as well for anyone who knows networking and has set things like this up before. For a generic home user (say, my mother), it would've been a bit tougher just out of ignorance and confusion with terms and meanings to do anything advanced, although she should've been able to get it plugged in and get herself to the internet on the wireless without any issues. But let's face it, this would, for her, be light years easier than anything else when it comes time to changing the default SSID, where I'd be walking her through the phone to find the IP address it's giving through DHCP, what the devices own address is, and then walking her through getting at it in a web browser to administer. The quick setup guide walks a person through turning off the modem to flush any MAC address caching it may do, how to hook up the unit, how to set an admin password, and tells you that if you don't change the wireless network information via the GUI, the SSID and passwords are on the bottom of the unit.

I get usable wireless coverage throughout my house. I also have a Google OnHub as my main Wifi unit (I have an Ooma that is my firewall/router, so any other wireless device is always used just as an access point). The speed here is not as high as the speed I get on the other unit. I regularly hit about 47 to 48 MB/s speeds moving files between my laptop and my other PC's on the network or my 32TB Synology NAS in the basement. I get slower speeds on this as I've been getting on the google unit even when I've got direct line of sight to it from the laptop. It also doesn't seem to penetrate the walls quite as good as my OnHub does. So it's about the same as the other AC units I've had before I finally got the OnHub. They talk about beamforming and such, but from a wireless standpoint, this is just "average" for me. Granted, it's still going to be far faster than the internet connection, so for most people it'll be as good as anything they could get. But if you have a lot of local network resources that you deal with, you will see a slowdown compared to most newer AC units.

I can't connect to the 5GHz band with one of my iPads, so I'm assuming that one (iPad Mini 2, the first retina version) doesn't support it, since my iPad Mini 4 *did* connect to the 5GHz just fine, as did my iPhone 6s, my HP Spectre X360 tablet, and the other Dell all in one I have.

I'm disappointed that the rear facing USB is 2.0 only, and it's the one that comes out of a front corner that is 3.0, since that means no good way to "hide" any cables for drives you may plug in. I always hate it when people design things like this so that all the rest of the cables come out the back, but one thing still comes out the front somewhere. Seems a poor design choice. So be aware, if you want to use the USB 3 port, your cable will be coming out the front corner, not the back anywhere. And there's only the one USB 3 port.

Oddly enough, for a unit that had no reviews yet and I assumed was new, on their support page, the firmware version is from last August, 9 months ago... Maybe it's been around for a while as they tried to squash bugs or something prior to public release.

For those keeping score at home, the list of the common things supported by most routers includes, for this one, DDNS, a guest network that would allow someone access to the internet without them being able to access your local area network, Quality of Service options, DHCP services, IPV6, network address translation via either virtual server settings, dynamic port triggering, or DMZ. For people who want to open a port to a common one inside, but use a non standard port number for the outside interface to try to avoid people sniffing common service ports, you can apparently specify a different internal and external port for a NAT rule.

For me, the speed and operation is about standard, a bit slower on file transfers than my main wireless unit, but better than the Airport I used to use. But I wouldn't pick this if I was concerned about the best speeds, the real strength here is the ease of modifying things via the touch screen. Had this been a standard firewall/router, I'd probably give it 3 stars. It's average for me compared to others I've had (I have many "old" AC wireless firewall/routers laying around that I've replaced for various reasons over the last 18 months or so). But let's face it, most people set something like this up, then never touch it again until something breaks. I've had people bring me their firewalls and ask if I could fix something, not knowing their IP address, passwords, nothing, since they didn't pay any real attention to things when they ran the wizard. And it's especially annoying for ones that have been put in AP mode, so there's no DHCP running.

This negates all those things. Sure, you may have to reset it to factory default to get back into it, but that's really the only stumbling block, since you never have to figure out what IP it is, what subnet it is, in order to connect to it. Even for systems that don't REQUIRE you to set up via a webpage and come with their own utility, you still generally have to be on the same IP range if it doesn't give out addresses, and that can take time to find the right combination if they didn't stick with the most common settings.

So for the touch screen alone, and the more than reasonable price, I would normally give this thing 5 stars. The firmware page even talks about some of the software that runs on it being public domain by third party people, so I can only imagine that other people will also add their own apps or cooked firmware versions that will extend the features even more. The only reason it gets 4 stars is that bad placement of the USB 3 port. Anything designed to make cables come out of the FRONT as well as the back is just bad design. But if you're like me and wouldn't be using anything on the USB, it's a 5 star item...


Cocoon Innovations Urban Adventure 16" Messenger Bag (MMB2704BK)
Cocoon Innovations Urban Adventure 16" Messenger Bag (MMB2704BK)
Price: $79.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Returned the same day I got it, zippers are a bear..., April 27, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Oh, I wanted to like this so much. I spent a few years using an STM messenger bag that I liked more than any other bag I've used, but I really got tired of the side load for the laptop, and how it was designed, since it kept ripping the rubber feet off of my Lenovo Thinkpads... But there was just an insane amount of storage inside of that bag, I could fit so much...

Being the CTO of an IT consulting company, I carry a bunch of things, from USB hard drives to an external DVD drive for my tablet PC that doesn't have built in optical, to bootable CD's for various tools, my charger, power bricks, wireless portable routers, there's just a TON of stuff I carry. And when I finally gave up on how it would ruin the feet, I ended up with a backpack case that carries more than the other ones I had available here at home, but it's just not one i want to keep using.

I saw this, and had hopes. That innovative strap system looked really slick - I could easily see a lot of the things I have in pockets being kept in those, better actually than having in pockets since you can see what you're looking for. And those straps actually worked well.

But the zippers - oh, the zippers really ruined it. They're a pain, stick all the time, and most require two hands to open, one to pull the tab, the other hand to hold the opposite end. And the water bottle side pockets are the worst, with that curvature in them...

I also don't like that the top flap doesn't overlap the edges, so if it's raining out, water can easily drip down into the inside of this.

The construction was very well done though, I loved the material, it felt STURDY and had great stitching everywhere.

If they ever redesign the top flap to protect from water incursion, and go with nylon teeth on the zippers, I may reconsider their lineup, but for now, I ended up setting up a return the same day I received it.


Farberware Non-Slip 12 by 18-Inch Poly Cutting Board, White/Red
Farberware Non-Slip 12 by 18-Inch Poly Cutting Board, White/Red
Price: $19.85
3 used & new from $19.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice board for the price but lacks the juice groove I would prefer, April 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have a set of Oxo boards I think they were, three sizes, also with red rubber on the corners. The thing I like about those is that the rubber is a bit grippier on my counter top than this is. I also like that one side of those is grooved, whereas this one has no grooves on either side, which seems like a missed opportunity.

But this has the handle notch cut in, which the others lack, making it easier for me to deal with when washing it in the sink.

It's a good size, smaller than my normal unit, but still large enough for the things I do for stir fry, fajitas, salads, or slicing up chicken breasts. The material is soft enough that I don't worry about my ceramic knives, but not so soft that I'm cutting grooves every time I cut a green pepper.

And for my house, it doubles for a place for my son to sit on the carpet in the great room assembling Lego creations...

If you don't need / want the juice groove, this is a well priced item compared to the ones with grooves.


AmazonBasics Heavy-Duty Vault Case for PlayStation Vita and Vita Slim (Officially Licensed by Sony)
AmazonBasics Heavy-Duty Vault Case for PlayStation Vita and Vita Slim (Officially Licensed by Sony)
Price: $16.99
2 used & new from $13.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Great case, so much better than what I had been using, April 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I had a soft case I used for my Vita, but it was a bit of a pain zippering it shut since it was such a snug fit. And it wasn't really very protective.

This one is a totally different experience. I love it. It feels nice and solid, it's soft inside to keep from scratching, and has absorption enough to help protect from a fall.

There's some storage for games as well, and a small flap to help keep them from rubbing on the screen.

The release works fine, and I like not dealing with a full around zipper anymore.

Definitely the only case I'm going to bother using now for my Vita.


Sumkica Ceramic Knife Set - Red Handle, White Blade Kitchen Knives with Sheath Protector - Includes 6-inch Chef's Knife, 5-inch Utility (Slicing), 4-inch Fruit Knife, 3-inch Paring, Vegetable Peeler
Sumkica Ceramic Knife Set - Red Handle, White Blade Kitchen Knives with Sheath Protector - Includes 6-inch Chef's Knife, 5-inch Utility (Slicing), 4-inch Fruit Knife, 3-inch Paring, Vegetable Peeler
Offered by Sumkica
Price: $19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very light handles, but still a great value, April 22, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've got several different flavors of ceramic knife sets. The ones I wanted to replace with these had rubberish handles with raized little dots all over them - a real pain to clean.

These feel alright, they're sharp and work well. The look very good. My only real complaint about them is that they're so insanely light, as if the handle is made out of cotton. There is no heft to them, so they feel oddly balanced.

But for the price, they work like a champ, light or not, so definitely a value at this price.


DII Kitchen Millennium, Microwave & Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Silicone Boil Over, Spill Guard for 6 x 10" Openings, Set of 2- Red
DII Kitchen Millennium, Microwave & Dishwasher Safe, BPA Free, Silicone Boil Over, Spill Guard for 6 x 10" Openings, Set of 2- Red
Price: $13.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They worked as advertised, April 19, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
These are software and more flexible than I had expected. And they did work, and help keep that bubble overflow from messing up the sides of my pots and stove.

There's a larger one for larger pots, but these fit my normal ones I use for everything but long spaghetti pasta.

I've had no issues with them deforming or melting so far, and it's easy to just invert them and put them in my cupboards right on top of the pots they'll be used with, so no extra storage needed for me.

It's nice when something does what it says it will. Haven't tried steaming anything though, so I can't attest to that first hand.


CaseBuy 2-in-1 Anti-Glare Anti Scratch Screen Protector Cover Skin for HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.3" Touch-Screen Laptop & Black Keyboard Cover
CaseBuy 2-in-1 Anti-Glare Anti Scratch Screen Protector Cover Skin for HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 13.3" Touch-Screen Laptop & Black Keyboard Cover
Offered by CaseBuy
Price: $15.90
2 used & new from $9.77

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't fit the X360 Spectre well at all, April 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had picked this up for my HP X360 Spectre, and ended up returning it.

The fit was marginal at best, and the feel was just not good at all. I spent from 2009 through 2013 on Macbook pros using these keyboard protectors, and had no issues. Loved the feel, loved the performance, but this one just was nothing like any of the other ones I have used.


CHEFVANTAGE Stainless Steel Food Chopper
CHEFVANTAGE Stainless Steel Food Chopper
Offered by MB Lifestyle
Price: $29.99
3 used & new from $19.21

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely useless for me, ended up throwing it out as it wasn't even worth trying to return, April 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really wanted to like this. I had looked around at several, since I really hate chopping up onions. So I finally took the plunge.

And I wish I hadn't. It was money thrown away. As others have mentioned, it really feels cheap. They advertise it as easy to clean, but it's really not, since there is no good way to get up into the blade area even disassembled to clean things that get stuck up there. And even doing small slices of onions that I cut into manageable flat parts to slap chop with this, it was an utter failure. Most of the time things just wedged between the blades and they wouldn't retract again.

Even though I was done with it by the second day, I didn't bother with the free Amazon return since I didn't want to try to clean out those stuck onions again, so I simply threw it away and considered it money well spent in the lesson that there is no quick solution to some things...
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2016 1:58 PM PDT


LG Hom-Bot Square Robotic Vacuum (VR65502LV)
LG Hom-Bot Square Robotic Vacuum (VR65502LV)
Price: $714.75

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Performance doesn't match price, and no options for easy barriers, April 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First note - I laughed myself silly when it first was put on the charger, since it woke up and played "Happy Birthday" to celebrate its birth. That was just a nice little non technical touch. Nothing like giving them a little personality. That was an instant plus in its favor.

I also like that the home station has a spot to store the remote.

I've got an LG microwave I've had for a few years now, their top of the line model back four or five years ago. I also have what was their high end washer and dryer about 9 years ago, both still work great, love them, and have had no issues. I've also had a few of their TV's in the past, so I'm an LG fan, and normally like their technology.

But the instant negative in its favor that cost it a star out the gate no matter what - nothing included to "block off" a spot. Even the Neato Robotics Connected vacuum I have came with like 6 feet of a magnetic strip that you could cut into pieces and place to keep it in a limited area. Nowhere in the instructions does it even mention any such option. The only way is apparently the "my space" option. Considering I use the Neato to do three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an entry way / laundry room and my hallway, but I keep it out of the kitchen, dining area, and great room that usually has Legos on the floor in the process of being built, I don't really want to have to manually drive it around this convoluted 2/3's of my house. Much easier to have a little strip it knows not to cross in the ONE SPOT that I don't want it to pass. Yes, I can throw something large in the way to block it at the end of the hallway where the Neato knows not to cross, but that's a pain. It's so much easier to have a small strip you can leave there 24/7. So in this instance, it was an immediate fail for me. I had wondered which of these I'd end up keeping as my main robot vac, and this one lack of a feature immediately doomed this one to NOT be chosen.

The remote control is a bit of a pain if you want to use it to actually vacuum a spot. Everything stops the moment you let go of a button, and then "spins up" again when you make a turn and then stops again, and spins up again when you start moving again. So the beginning of each move is with less suction and less beater bar action, since it's not spun back up to speed when it starts moving. And using this to set your vacuum area would be really, really annoying if you're doing more than a small, simple square.

I like the "concept" of remote controlling the outline of what you want vacuumed, but in reality, having been using a robot vac for a while now, I just really see little practical purpose in it for most people. It would've been far simpler and quicker to use boundary markers.

There apparently are mopping attachments you can get for this model as well, although none were included so I can't attest to it.

The spinning brushes sticking out the sides like whiskers really aren't as effective if you're not on bare floor - they have a problem moving things outside of it's path into the actual path to vacuum on carpet. On the bare floor, they did alright, so if you have like bits of cereal, crumbs, onion skins that flaked off somewhere, these will get them into the path to vacuum up when the floor is smooth. The problem is they're a bit long and flexible, so they don't work so well on the carpet where there's more friction and things can stick easily. The Neato's side spinning brush like this seems to work better. it's not any stiffer, but it's shorter, so doesn't flex as much, and seems to deal better with carpet. I've had no issues with the edges of the walls on the carpeted rooms and hallway with the Neato, but this one can miss a few things here and there.

The noise level is just about on par with the Neato I have, even in Turbo mode. Both are relatively quiet and quite unobtrusive.

Both move about the same pace, so while initially I didn't see either of them necessarily getting done quicker due to ground speed, I did flip them over and noted that the Neato's bar (and thus cleaning path) is four or five inches wider than this one's. So the Neato will take less passes across a floor to clean it compared to this narrower cleaning path..

I tried the cell by cell cleaning but my rooms have furniture and such in them, nothing is open enough for that to really work well. Even the great room has several tables and such scattered through it, as well as the elliptical and treadmill. And that's the same problem I have with the "My Space" function - I don't have anything that's a simple rectangle. I could see maybe using that for a spot cleaning, but in that case I'd think something like the other robots use, where you put it in that spot and say "clean this spot" and they work out a set distance from that center point is a quicker option.

The Neato, if you remove it from it's path and thus make it lose spacial recognition of where it's moved, cannot return to the home base. This one claims that if you manually move it during cleaning, it will take longer to find the base. But apparently they say it will, so I had to test this, since I was disappointed in the Neato's inability to actually search and find the home base with radio or IR or something. So I let it start in my great room, and when it got just about 10 seconds into use, straight out maybe 5 feet from the base, I picked it up and put it in the dining room, rotated 90 degrees from the orientation I picked it up from, and told it to return home. Now, it was on the other side of a dining table, four chairs, a couch, a recliner, and a coffee table that it had to navigate around and through. And while it took it a little time, it actually managed to find home. Something the Neato absolutely can't do.

I had random luck with how close to a wall it would get. I also had a lot of instances where it would seem to get confused and just spin, go a little bit, hit a wall, spin, hit another object, spin, and repeat that for four or five minutes before finally coming back out. This usually happened where things formed a corner, either items or actual walls. It would eventually come out, but sometimes it took a while.

I also saw quite a bit of line-up issues, when it would do the 90 degree turn at a wall, then move a bit along it, then 90 degrees to return in the opposite direction. I had many instances where it had 2 to 5 inches between the paths it came down, and returned down. So it wasn't catching the entire floor at all as well as the Neato.

This seems to be mostly better for walls and furniture avoidance, since the eye actually seems to keep it from bumping into things to learn when to stop. The Neato just bounces along until it hits something, then adjusts, and goes. This seems to use the "eyes" a lot more for avoidance, but by the same token, it seems almost afraid sometimes, moving gingerly along walls, or the edge of a table. I'm guessing it just goes into a slightly slower movement mode while it's monitoring its distance from something, but when there are a lot of obstacles in the way, it cuts down on the speed as it gingerly navigates daintily around things.

The top comes open by pressing at a point towards the "back" of it, and it pivots up to let you at the dust bin. I do like this dust bin better than the one on the Neato since it's a bit of a better design, and even has a spot for a little brush with two sides, for cleaning the filter and the bin. The downside compared to the Neato is that this bin is considerably smaller in capacity than the Neato one is.

Now, my Neato started out as a disappointment as well, and eventually started working better. I gave it 2 stars to begin, and ended up at 3 as it improved over time. I would've given it 4, but the wireless feature stopped working utterly and nothing their support was able to tell me to do would fix the issue, so it's nothing more than a standard "press the button to clean" robot vac now.

This one I'm going to start at 2 stars for the price point and the performance I've seen so far, and the issues with it missing entire swaths of flooring between its zig zag patterns. If it improves, I'll adjust accordingly, but at this point, I can't see it being worth the price charged. I'd opt for one of the other alternatives out there, especially if you're like me and want an easy way to keep it from an area without having to leave obstacles in your hallway.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 19, 2016 12:15 PM PDT


Zinus Extra Firm 12 Inch Big & Tall Support Plus Spring Mattress, Queen
Zinus Extra Firm 12 Inch Big & Tall Support Plus Spring Mattress, Queen
Price: $346.36
2 used & new from $329.99

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best mattresses I've ever slept on, April 17, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Mine came rolled up lengthwise, so I just had to open it up at the foot of my frame and let it unroll towards the headboard. I've had many memory foam mattresses I've tried over the years. My current one is not the most recent, just the best one for firmness and comfort. I've had it about three years now. I've had back pain in the past, and one of the things that helped was my firmer mattress I have right now. So when this one specifically talked about being firm, I had hopes.

I had to give credit right away - of all the memory foam mattresses and pillows I've had in the past, this one has the least chemical smell upon opening it up. And even the little bit of chemical smell it exhibited when opened was gone in just 5 or 6 hours. It only took a little bit of time before it expanded to just about full size. I still let it sit 3 days to fully expand as they recommended though.

It definitely is firmer than most of the memory foam mattresses I've tried, but the one I've been using wasn't advertised specifically as a firm one, yet it's still a bit firmer. Others mentioned that this is firmer in the middle than on the edges - I don't know what kind of width they're talking about, but on mine, in my "normal" position mid way on one side, it's about as firm as it is dead center. I can verify that the edges are softer, such as if you're sitting on it getting shoes and socks on, but in my normal position which is NOT in the center, it still felt about the same as the center. So it's not like you'll be relegated to this small strip down the very middle of the bed if you want support.

It is comfortable. I can always tell when I sleep on something that was too squishy (such as a hotel visit this past weekend) and I had none of that sense in the mornings waking up after using this. But it's not like my other memory foam mattresses. The current one, while as firm as this, has a bit of a firmer foam on top that molds better than this. This one is less like memory foam and more like a normal pillow top - no shape retention.

That's about the only thing that is different than my current one. Other than that, this one holds up just as good as the one I've been using. It compares so well that I don't know which one I'm going to keep on my frame now...

Edit: After a few weeks of switching back and forth, I've settled on this Zinus one as my permanent mattress. I found that i prefer this pillow top firmer mattress to the one I had been using up to this point. I hadn't thought my sleep could improve, but when I'm on this one, it does. It doesn't mold like the other one did, but it still supports better. Ultimately, that makes all the difference for me.


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