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J. Donaldson's Profile

Customer Reviews: 803
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Reviews Written by
J. Donaldson "Cal-diver" RSS Feed (Redding, CA USA)

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Panasonic DMC-ZS100S LUMIX 4K Digital Camera with 20 Megapixel Sensor, WiFi Silver + 64GB Memory Card + Battery, Charger + Flash + Tripod + Lowepro Case + Ritz Gear Cleaning Kit + Accessory Bundle
Panasonic DMC-ZS100S LUMIX 4K Digital Camera with 20 Megapixel Sensor, WiFi Silver + 64GB Memory Card + Battery, Charger + Flash + Tripod + Lowepro Case + Ritz Gear Cleaning Kit + Accessory Bundle
Offered by RitzCamera
Price: $699.99
2 used & new from $699.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great camera and pretty good accessories, May 25, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I just received the ZS100 a couple of hours ago, along with the other items included in this kit. So far I'm quite pleased. I will extend this review but for now I wanted to comment on the included items, and a few words on the camera.

I selected this kit, among other available kits with a different mix of accessories, for the soft case/ 64GB SD card / extra battery / and battery charger. I was intrigued by the slave flash and the tripod.

The Transcend 64GB Memory Card R95 -W60MB/s sells today on Amazon for $27. That alone is a good reason for selecting a kit over just buying the camera alone. It works fine although I have not tested it for read/write speed yet. i've used Transcend cards for years and have never had one fail on me.

The Wasabi battery and charger sells for about $32. I've used Wasabi batteries for years and see no reason to pay the high OEM battery prices.

The Polaroid slave flash. What a cool little device. I have a very expensive slave flash for my DSLR which I use for specific applications. I'm not a pro photographer. This little flash, and the supplied arm, allow it to be attached to the camera, or to the tripod alone, or on the tripod with the camera. When the camera flash fires so does the slave flash, adding quite a bit of power to the flash. There is no connection to the camera, and no power setting on the flash. Besides the camera really looks cool with the flash attached (I'll include a photo). Put the whole thing on the included tripod and it's really cool. Truthfully I don't know if I'll use the flash much, or at all, but it was free!

- The tripod. I read other's comments about the tripod so I didn't expect much. But it's better than I thought. I see these sell for less than $8 on Amazon and I actually think it is worth more than that. I'm sure it won't put up with much abuse, but if I take care of it I expect it to last. I have a GorillaPod which is fantastic. This tripod has a flexible metal bar in each leg. I don't know how many times it can be bent without breaking. There is a plastic ball-head on the top. A bubble level is even built into the ball-head. The top shakes easily so it will be best used on a calm day on a firm surface.

The soft case is very nice. It sells for $9. There is a separate zipper pocket in front for SD cards, but the spare battery wouldn't fit. The back has a loop so it can be worn on a belt. The ZS100 fits snugly in the case, and the zippers work well. Lowepro makes nice camera cases. I have a few and they hold up quite well. I wish the zipper went down to the middle of the case on both sides so it would be a bit easier to insert or remove the camera.

Also included are an SD card soft storage unit that holds three SD cards. It too has a belt loop on the back. It is well built and has a Velcro closure. Not bad but it won't protect a naked card from being bent. None of the small cases that SD cards come in will fit in the pockets of this storage device. I won't be using it.

The cleaning kit is nice. Everything you need to keep your lens and camera ready to shoot.

As for the camera I will make these brief comments, then come back for a full review after I have a chance to use it for a couple of days.

I bought this as a gap filler camera between my Samsung Galaxy S5 Smartphone camera, and my DSLRs. The ZS100 will easily beat the smartphone camera for fast operation, analog zoom, and action photos. The DSLR of course is much better in all respects but it is large and heavy. There are just times when I don't want to carry the DSLR. The ZS100 will nicely fill this gap, and fit in my pocket.

When I decided to buy a pocket camera I wanted a larger sensor, and more than the typical 3x or 5x zoom. This DMC-ZS100 is today the only camera on the market with a 1" sensor and 10x zoom. So I read up on it and watched every review video I could find. They all said the same thing. The image quality can be beat by some Sony models, but the rest stands up to scrutiny.

I like sharp images. I spend a fair amount of money on lenses for my DSLRs to have sharp images. I knew going in that I won't get the highest image quality from this camera, but the first few images I took (less than 20) in the house have been quite pleasing. I am going to enjoy this pocket camera.

There is a 400+ page .pdf advanced manual for this camera. I read the entire manual before the camera arrived. This thing is stuffed with features; way more than my DSLR. I can't wait to try out many of them.

Things that attracted me to this camera;
- The 1" sensor
- The 10X zoom
- The Post Focus feature
- The combination of the 3" LCD and the EVF
- Built in flash
- Assignable control rink on the lens
- 5 axis optical stabilization

There are many many more interesting features but that list above made me willing to spend $700.

I'm actually not one to take a lot of videos so the 4K video feature wasn't a big thing for me. However the ability to grab 8 megapixel stills from the 4K stream sounds really useful.

More to come...
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Uniden Atlantis 150 Submersible Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine Radio
Uniden Atlantis 150 Submersible Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine Radio
Price: Click here to see our price
57 used & new from $50.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Most important safety item on my boat, May 25, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is a very good reason why I selected this Vine product. It was about time to replace my 11 year old Uniden VHF radio (See photos). The old one still works fine, although I had to buy new batteries for it a few years ago. But the old one doesn't float, and it's heavy so it would sink like a rock if I dropped it in the water. You'll see from the photos that it is heavily damaged by salt. I rode on the ocean with it many many times on my Honda PWC. The old one is submersible and held up perfectly as far as being water tight all of those years.

This new Atlantis 150 is not only submersible, it is also much lighter, and it floats. I always thought that if I got a new VHF radio I would want it to float. The Atlantis 150 has all of the features of my old VHF, but it lacks the 5 watts of power.

- Volume Up/Down
- Channel Up/Down
- 16/9/Tri. This feature allows me to quickly set either channel 16 (the emergency channel), channel 9, or any other channel of my choice. Holding that button puts the Atlantis 150 into a cycle mode on those three channels. Very handy.
- Scan, which cycles through a list of channels I can define by saving them in memory. This includes channels 16 and 9 so it is like the Tri feature above but programmed by me, with the ability to cycle through many more than three channels.
- WX. Weather channels. NOAA channels. Also very handy.Holding the WX button puts the radio into a mode that monitors weather hazard alerts.
- SQL. Listening to raw channel data includes a lot of low level noise. The Squelch feature cuts the noise completely but allows normal two way conversation. My old radio has both volume and squelch together so it is very easy to move the squelch knob when adjusting the volume. I do like the SQL feature on the Atlantis but I'm concerned that only three levels of Squelch control is insufficient.
- Boost button increases the transmit power from 0.7W to 2.5W.

- Based on my own multi-year experience with Uniden products I expect the Atlantis 150 to be very reliable
- I think the plastic body will hold up much better than the metal body of my old VHS radio.
- It is light weight
- It floats
- The table charger is easy to use
- It has both a belt clip and a substantial loop to connect a wrist strap.
- Easy to use squelch feature.

- It shuts off after 3 continuous minutes of broadcasting. This shouldn't normally be a problem but I thought it was an odd feature.
- Only three levels of squelch.

What is missing that I would like to have? (I can't take stars off for these as they are not features of this radio)
- 5 Watts of power
- A second battery that can easily be swapped in
- A DC charging solution. I'm not likely to have an AC charge capability if I'm camping. The battery is supposed to last 10 hours. That's just a day of boating for us. What do we do the second day?

I no longer boat on the ocean, but I do boat on a very large lake. I consider a VHF radio to be the most important safety feature on my boat. I do not boat without a VHF radio. 1) I can listen in case anyone else is calling for help (in fact it's the law). 2) I can call for help.

The Atlantis 150 is a great radio, for a very reasonable pride. I highly recommend it.
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Set of 6 LED Solar-Powered Garden Lights; Perfect Neutral Design; Makes Garden Pathways & Flower Beds Look Great; Easy NO-WIRE Installation; All-Weather/Water- Resistant. 100% Money-Back Guarantee!
Set of 6 LED Solar-Powered Garden Lights; Perfect Neutral Design; Makes Garden Pathways & Flower Beds Look Great; Easy NO-WIRE Installation; All-Weather/Water- Resistant. 100% Money-Back Guarantee!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So far so good., May 18, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased these lights based on the large number of positive user reviews. I selected them over another set which looked similar, was about 1/2 price, but had poor user reviews. I'm pleased with this set and will likely purchase another set.

We had quite a few of this type of solar accent lights in our back yard for a few years. They all worked fine at first but after about a year they were quite weathered. Naturally I had to replace batteries after they reached their useful lifespan. But little by little they began to fail to light at all.

This set is still plastic (I wouldn't expect anything else for this price) but the overall construction is better than any others we've had. They are just a little thicker and sturdier. They are also brighter than lights we've had before. These are not the type of light that light up a walkway; they are just for accents. However these do cast their light in about a 2' radius around the light.

It is recommended that they are charged by the sun before use. We just stuck them in the garden where we wanted them about 6pm. There was only a couple of hours of daylight. All six lit up at night, and now have kept bright for 4 hours.

This is a nice set and I recommend it.

Stack-On SPAD-1500 Rechargeable Cordless Dehumidifier
Stack-On SPAD-1500 Rechargeable Cordless Dehumidifier
Price: $22.77
22 used & new from $15.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for our fire safe., May 18, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is perfect for us. Had I known this existed I likely would have purchased one.

Two years ago we purchased a small fire safe, just for safekeeping of important papers. The inside is very humid all of the time. I open the safe about once a month and leave it open for 24 hours to try to dry it out. It even smells wet when we open it. All of the papers in the safe are soft from the high humidity.

Apparently the outer walls of the safe, about 2"+ thick, are filled with something like clay. The clay absorbs moisture from the air which is why the inside of the safe is always so wet.

In our large gun safe is near an AC outlet so I was able to install a low wattage heater which keeps the contents dry. The small fire safe isn't near any AC outlets so this design which involves plugging the SPAD-1500 in somewhere else meets our needs.

Today, when the SPAD-1500 arrived I put it right in the fire safe. I really appreciate the design, and the simplicity of the AC plug being a swing-out type built int the back of the unit. It was a bit larger than I expected, but it's not so large as to be a problem. The Stack-On arrived ready to use, it was not necessary to plug it in. I won't know if it really works as promised for some time. I'll certainly report back here with the results.

POOF Strato Slam Rocket Battle Blast
POOF Strato Slam Rocket Battle Blast
Offered by Quidsi Retail LLC
Price: $35.99
12 used & new from $23.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Compared to Geospace Jump Rocket, May 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have two air rocket toys. Both have their pros and cons. The other set we have is this one Original Geospace Jump Rocket - Launcher and 3 Rocket Set. I'll call that one the Geospace and this one the Slam.

Both the Geospace and Slam have similar attributes. They are easy to assemble, the rockets have soft tips so won't hurt even if they hit someone on the way down, both are fired by jumping on the launch pump. The Geospace is rated at up to 300 feet while the Slam up to 200 feet. I doubt if we could get either to go to their maximum rating but the Geospace does certainly go higher. But there are other differences which make the Slam a better choice for us.

The Geospace rockets fit tightly on the launch tube. They need to be worked into place until they are properly seated. But I believe the tight fit is responsible for higher launch results. The two disadvantages of the Geospace are the tube leading from the pump to the launcher tends to get pinched which reduces air flow to the launcher. Also when the pump is deflated it won't re-inflate until the rocket is removed from the launch tube. The result is if the rocket doesn't launch you have to remove the rocket to get the pump to re-inflate. Only one launcher and three rockets come with the Geospace (for a lower price).

The Slam has a non collapsible tube leading from the pump to the launch tube so it doesn't get pinched or restricted. Also the pump will quickly re-inflate every time even if the rocket is on the launch tube. The rockets slip easily onto the launch tube, they can even just be dropped onto the tube and will slide down unaided. The fit of the rocket on the launch tube is convenient but the rockets might fly higher if the fit was tighter. The Slam comes with two launchers and six rockets.

Both sets are fun. The Slam is easier to use and with two launchers even more fun for two friends to compete for maximum height or just launching together for fun.

We took both sets to the park but found we liked using the Slam better because it is easier to use overall. I recommend the Slam.

Invicta Men's 'Pro Diver' Quartz Stainless Steel Casual Watch (Model: 21951)
Invicta Men's 'Pro Diver' Quartz Stainless Steel Casual Watch (Model: 21951)
Price: $114.27
4 used & new from $114.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Large, Heavy watch, May 11, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
May 19, 2016 Update
One thing about this watch that I had not noted is while it is waterproof there is no indication that it is shock proof. For a watch in this price range that seems to be a missing feature. I'm taking a star off. While it is not advertised to be rugged it certainly has a rugged look, is waterproof (presumably dust proof), but when I compare it to a range of other similar watches in this price range it should be shock proof. If I were looking for a watch in this price range I would reject it.

Original Review
Wow that's one heavy hunk of metal. When I opened the box and lifted the watch out I discovered how much of the weight was in the watch vs the box. I weighed it at 7.7 ounces; that's almost 1/2 pound of weight on my wrist. I've never owned an Invicta watch before; perhaps they are all heavy.

Aside from being heavy the watch is massive. I've never seen a watch of this size. I measured it at 2 1/4" top to bottom (where the wrist band attaches), and 1/2" thiick. This is not something I will wear every day. My plan is to wear it on my boat where I don't have another clock. I'll be able to get it wet, even go swimming with it. Otherwise I can't imagine wearing it for every day use. One star off for massive weight and size. As a reference I've attached a photo of the Invicta next to what I would call a normal size (1 3/8" diameter) watch.

There are several plastic protectors to remove from the front and back of the watch, and the whole wristband. It was nicely packaged.

It seems to me that calling this watch Pro Diver, then telling us it's not for SCUBA diving is a bit of false advertising. It would be easy for a diver to select this watch, missing the warning. If it is good to over 300' depth I don't understand why it shouldn't be good for diving.

I pulled out the center large handle/crown and set the time easily. I then tried to put the watch on my wrist but I need to remove some links as it is too large. The good news is if someone has large wrists there is a good chance this will fit.

The included instruction booklet is generic to a range of Invicta watches. After looking through the entire little help booklet I did not actually find a page specific to this particular watch. Perhaps this model is too new to have made it into the manual. Specifically this watch has a subdial for 24 hours but I found no instructions for operating that dial.

There was a QR code attached to the wristband. I hoped it would lead to more extensive instructions, including how to remove links from the band, but the QR only led to the Invicta main web page. However Googl'ing "Adjust Invicta watch band" brought up a youtube page that helped. It's nothing more than pushing pins out to remove links. Arrows on the inside of the wristband show which direction to hammer the pins.

The amazon page for this watch says it has a Tachymeter - it does not. Rather it has a divers scale.

As a side note I think Invicta needs to hire someone to redo their packaging. The feminine yellow box is not attractive and certainly inappropriate for a masculine watch.

I suppose you have to like this type of watch. Frankly less expensive digital watches can provide all of these functions with larger, easier-to-use, controls. This is more of a fashion statement. If you're a large man this may suit you. I think it is a nice looking watch. I expect it to look good for a long time given the Flame Fusion Crystal which should resist scratches.
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Liftmaster 41A3504 Residential Garage Door Opener Antenna Extension Kit
Liftmaster 41A3504 Residential Garage Door Opener Antenna Extension Kit
Offered by Gate Openers Unlimited
Price: $28.95
4 used & new from $24.32

3.0 out of 5 stars Extended our garage remote behavior., May 10, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Our garage remotes for our cars perform very poorly. Sometimes we are parked directly in front of the garage door within 10' and have to push the button several times to get the door to open.

In installed this antenna extender per instructions. The extended antenna is now mounted inside the face of the garage above the sectional door.

Now our car remotes can open the door from about 20-30' away. I had hoped it would work over a longer distance but this is still a great improvement.

Subway Surfers
Subway Surfers
Price: $2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good game, May 10, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Subway Surfers (Kindle Edition)
My 6-year-old son's favorite game. We have this game on both fast and slow smartphones, and a really cheap tablet. The game works fine on all of these platforms. It is a fast action but simple game with good graphics, a fun tune, and good user controls. There are in game advertisements.

South Main Hardware 810102 TSA 3-Digit Cable Travel Lock
South Main Hardware 810102 TSA 3-Digit Cable Travel Lock
Price: $5.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good TSA lock, May 10, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a robust, well designed luggage lock. The combination is easy to set.

We've never been able to lock our checked bags. Now that I see this lock is available I may buy more so we can have one for each bag.

2005 Toyota 4Runner
2005 Toyota 4Runner

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall great SUV, May 4, 2016
This review is from: 2005 Toyota 4Runner
High reliability. Great 4 wheel performance. High towing capacity. Good creature comforts.

One star off for poor mpg. I get 13mpg around town, 18-20 mpg highway, 10-12 towing a 4,000 pound boat and trailer.

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