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mhnstr RSS Feed (Christchurch, New Zealand)

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Klipsch R-20B Bluetooth Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer (Satin Black)
Klipsch R-20B Bluetooth Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer (Satin Black)
Price: $799.00
11 used & new from $743.07

4.0 out of 5 stars Capable of generating pleasant, lively sound, December 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A word that is often synonymous with Klipsch speakers is loud. Klipsch uses horn loaded tweeters which means that the speakers can be driven move efficiently to higher sound levels than a driver without a horn. However, horns are often associated with coloring the sound (a processed referred to as "honkiness"). To reduce the coloration, Klipsch developed the Tractrix flared horns which were said to reduce the effect of honkiness and to create a more natural sound quality and to create a more uniform sound field. There remains a debate about the loud horns versus "purer" sounds of loudspeakers without horns, but at the end of the day, it is what you the listener like to hear that counts.

The Klipsch R-20B soundbar encloses two ¾" Tractrix horns loaded textile dome tweeters and four 3" polypropylene woofers. The woofer is a 10" side-firing driver enclosed in a solid MDF cabinet. The inputs for the soundbar are 1 optical digital, 1 Stereo RCA, and Bluetooth. The woofer is connected to the soundbar wirelessly. The R-20B surprisingly lacks an HDMI input. The R-20B also lacks any method of calibrating the system.

Unlike some soundbars which immerse the listener by emulating the rear speaker positions (for example the Bose CineMate 130), the Klipsch R-20B soundbar is only stereo (2.1). While the Klipsch R-20B does certainly sound full and amazing, it isnt trying to replace a full home theater setup. Klipsch itself describes the soundbar as being for people who are trying to upgrade the wimpy speakers on their TV. The pros and cons of the soundbar approach as listed by Klipsch are:

- Easy installation and connectivity
- Minimal wires
- Great for small-medium living spaces

- The placement of the soundbar creates specific "sweet spots" in your listening experience
- Does not produce complete surround sound, especially in larger living environments

Setup of the speakers is straightforward. Both the soundbar and the subwoofer must be plugged into wall outlets. The soundbar must then be either connected to the headphone jack or the optical digital output of the TV. Alternatively, the speakers can be connected via Bluetooth to the TV (if possible), a stereo receiver (if it has Bluetooth) or any other Bluetooth device. I matched the speakers to my iPod, Android phone and my computer easily.

I have used both listening to music and watching movies to evaluate the sound quality. My listening room is 11 x 14 and carpeted, so not very large.

This is my first Klipsch speaker system and I was expecting a brash, booming sound due to the horns and the 10" woofer. Instead, I heard was a sound that was balanced without the muddy bass I was expecting. The highs were a bit bright and the lows were a bit underemphasized in some instances, but overall, the sound was very nice.

In terms of capacity, the speakers filled my listening space with sound with little effort. I cant say how the speakers would sound in a larger space. However, in terms of the localization of sounds in terms of delivering surround sound for films, the speakers are just average. As I mentioned before, the Klipsch literature states that the soundbar and woofer are only meant to blow away the existing speakers in the TV and they do this task phenomenally, but without the localization of a surround sound system.

Overall Impressions
I am a big fan of the wireless subwoofer for the ease of placement. However, what can be unnerving is the low frequency thud the subwoofer gives if you turn off the soundbar before turning off the subwoofer.

I think that most people would be very pleased with these speakers in terms of a replacement for the speakers in any television.

However, if you are looking for a soundbar that can also simulate surround sound, you may want to consider the Bose CineMate 130 instead. The Bose CineMate 130 is far better capable of simulating the front, center and rear channels of a surround sound system, but with a price tag that is twice that of the Klipsch soundbar. However, in terms of loudness and bass, the Klipsch soundbar is the better system.

SteelSeries Siberia v3 Prism Gaming Headset-Cool Grey
SteelSeries Siberia v3 Prism Gaming Headset-Cool Grey
Price: $127.38
13 used & new from $127.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable headphones but lacking in low frequency response and without an in-line volume control, December 26, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Siberia V3 Prism headphones have a black matt plastic finish for the main construction as well as some flourishes added through the use of a glossy finish around the outside of the ear cushions. The LEDs around the outside of the ear cushions light up orange as soon as you plug in the headphones for the first time. To change the color of the LED lights, you must download the SteelSeries Engine 3 software from the SteelSeries website.

Fit and comfort
The Siberia V3 Prism has a double headband design with two plastic enclosed wires making up the outside headband and a softer, flexible headband which makes contact with your head. When you put the headphones on, the flexible, inner headband stretches to allow for the ear cushions to be positioned over your ears. This is done in place of having to manually adjust the width of the headphones. While separating the metal, outer structure from the inner structure which makes contact with your head does lend to the comfort of the headphones, there is a limit of how much the headphones can expand to accommodate your head. I have what could be described as an average adult size head and normally have no problem with fitting headphones over my head. However, with the Siberia V3 Prism, I seem to expand the inner headband as far as it goes when I put the headphones on my head. This means that the inner headband is actually tight against my head and the ear cushions dont make proper contact over my ears. The top of the ear cushions are tight, but the bottom of the ear cushions are not tight which degrades the noise isolation. However, on the plus side, unlike some other headphones, the earphones are not clamped in place over your ears. With the exception of feeling the fully extended headband on my head, V3 Prisms are very comfortable to wear. The memory phone ear cushions themselves are really comfortable. The headphones are also lightweight which is a plus.

The sound quality of the headphones is very good. Overall, the response seems to be flat in the high and mid frequencies and then to drop off at the low frequencies. What this means is that those who are looking for muddy bass will be disappointed as the headphones dont produce a lot of low frequency rumble. There is good clarity across the frequency range and I could pick out individual sounds well.

The microphone is cleverly tucked up into the left ear cushion. You simply pull on it to extend it and it is easily pushed back into place. A switch on the side of the ear cushion is used to mute the microphone. Unfortunately, this is hardly the best microphone I have used as it picks up what I am saying at a very low sound level.

Volume Control (or lack thereof)
Unfortunately, there is no in-line volume control. While this may not always be a big deal, an in-line volume control is nice to have during a battle scene or other scenarios where there are a lot of loud sounds that you want to be able to quickly reduce in volume with a minimum of hassle. It should be noted that the Elite version of the headphones do have the in-line control.

Overall, a comfortable headphone to wear. The ability to change the colors is a nice touch. However, the lack of low frequency response, the microphone and the lack of an in-line volume control led me to give the headphones only four stars.

Newhouse Lighting DLST01-B Energy-Efficient 5-watt Architect LED Desk Lamp, Black
Newhouse Lighting DLST01-B Energy-Efficient 5-watt Architect LED Desk Lamp, Black
Price: $29.85
8 used & new from $22.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides warm, steady light, but the stand and neck are flimsy and the lamp rocks back and forth slightly with any vibration, December 18, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This lamp gives a steady, warm light and so is very easy on the eyes. I now have two of these, one on my computer desk and one on my other desk because I like them so much.

The only downside to the lamps is how cheaply made they are. Unlike some gooseneck lamps, the neck feels flimsily and fragile when you move the lamp into different positions. Worse, the lamp will move with the slightest vibration on the desk. Typing on my keyboard can start the lamp moving back and forth slightly. This doesnt affect the light it provides on my work, but out of the corner of my eye, I can see the lamp moving which is annoying. A bit more stability in the neck or a bit more weight on the base would probably have solved this issue.

Overall, I bought the second lamp knowing that the stand is flimsy because I do really like the light it provides. However, I gave the lamp for stars because the stand could have been better designed.

Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Helioplex, SPF 30, 1.7 Ounce
Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer with Helioplex, SPF 30, 1.7 Ounce
Price: $11.99
17 used & new from $6.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Works well once finally applied, but slow to absorb without agressive rubbing it into the skin, December 18, 2014
My usual daily moisturizer was running low, but it unfortunately appears to be no longer made. So I was shopping at Target for a replacement and came across this product. I know the Neutrogena name and it appeared that the Healthy Defense would do what I wanted (moisturizer and sunblock) so I decided to give it a go.

On the plus side, the moisturizer does not irritate my eyes like some do and it does seem to work well once it is on because my skin no longer feels dry or tight.

However, there are a number of negatives:
- the moisturizer does not absorb well. I would put this on in the morning when my skin was still a little wet from washing my face. I found that I really had to work the moisturizer into my skin to the point that I was either aggressively rubbing or there was a white film on my skin. The rubbing around my eyes can not be good for the skin.
- the moisturizer smells like sun block. Yes, it is SPF 30, but I have used other moisturizers with sunblock that did not have such a strong sunblock smell. And the smell lasts for hours.

Overall, I really wanted to like this product. Once applied it does work well. But, the difficulty in applying it due to how poorly it goes on the skin means that I have already found a replacement.

Remington Products PG6250 Wettech Head, Beard and Body Grooming Kit, Black
Remington Products PG6250 Wettech Head, Beard and Body Grooming Kit, Black
Price: $39.99
2 used & new from $39.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little trimmer, December 15, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Whats in the box?
- trimmer
- four combs for the trimmer
- body groomer head (Remington counts this as a comb in the product description which is why the description indicates there are five combs)
- changing base and cable

The Remington trimmer is about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It is a nice weight and fits well into an adult hand. The body of the trimmer is hard plastic, but 3/4 of the body has been covered by a soft rubber so that you can keep a grip on the trimmer while using it in the shower. The downside to the hard plastic is that small pieces of hair tend to stick to the plastic when you use the trimmer dry. However, you can always rinse the trimmer to get rid of the hair.

The power button is on the top, but is a bit lower than where your thumb would naturally rest, maybe so that you dont press the button by accident.

The body groomer and trimmer head are easily exchanged by pressing on buttons on either side of the trimmer. The combs attach by snapping them in place over the trimmer head. You need a bit of force to get the combs back off, but that is probably a good thing so that they arent falling off during use.

What I was really pleased with is that the trimmer makes noise, but is not unbearably loud like most trimmers. This is really nice when trimming sideburns or hair around your ears so that you dont worry as much about such a loud noise source so near your ears.

The instructions indicate the trimmer should be charged for four hours before the first use. After that, it is supposed to keep its charge for sixty minutes. I have been using it every day since I first charged it and the charge is still going.

The trimmer head without a comb is really useful for precision trimming like keeping sideburns straight. The four combs that come with the trimmer dont offer a wide range of trimming lengths, but they have been working well otherwise. The body groom attachment basically turns the trimmer into a foil shaver. I have used it to keep the hair on the back of my neck tidy and have been happy with it. It gives a descent shave but for my face, I will stick with my safety razor.

I have had no problems with using the trimmer on my face and neck. I like being able to use it in the shower and this is definitely my go to trimmer for keeping my facial hair tidy. I am definitely pleased with this trimmer.

Christmas with Frank and Bing
Christmas with Frank and Bing
Price: $6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great collection, but poor sound quality, December 15, 2014
A great collection of timeless Christmas songs at a great price if you are a Prime member. My rating is due to the sound quality of this album. It sounds like the music is being played from a tin can. There are high frequency resonances and Bing's fantastic voice sounds tinny. The poor quality was the same whether through my loudspeakers or my ATH-M50 headphones.

Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A bit light in details but still a fun read that keeps the reader engaged., December 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ticker (Kindle Edition)
A fun Victorian era / Steampunk book with a precocious heroine and action packed scenes. Most of the Steampunk elements are introduced with little to no introduction as the world is built around the storyline. Mechanical butterflies, mechanical beetles in the library that summon spirits to terrorize those that dare make too much noise and flying fortresses powered by freezing cold elements are casually introduced and it seems like there could have been a whole storyline behind each. Maybe a bit more world building at the start of the book would have added to the richness of the world and I was often left wanting more of an explanation.

The heroine is precocious with a daredevil attitude. Tearing through the city streets on her transportation while texting or base jumping out of flying platforms doesn’t deter her. Her tight knit friends and family are well suited as they are daring as well. Yet there seemed to be unexplored tensions in the relationships as well that are never really addressed. For example, later in the book, the heroine’s father’s battle with alcohol is focused on and referenced repeatedly, yet there is no memorable mention of this at the start.

The book is about action, action, action but then the end of the book suddenly arrives and I felt it was a bit fast and unsatisfactory. After so much buildup, I expected more than just a quick ending. Evil is vanquished, errors forgotten and romances realized in a matter of pages.

Overall, I would have liked to have seen a lot more put into the world building and the ending of the book. But, Ticker is still a fun read that keeps the reader engaged.

CANON PIXMA iP110 Wireless Mobile Printer With Airprint(TM) And Cloud Compatible
CANON PIXMA iP110 Wireless Mobile Printer With Airprint(TM) And Cloud Compatible
Price: $179.99
8 used & new from $179.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A lightweight, portable printer with issues that prevent it from being useful, December 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Canon Pixma iP110 is a lightweight printer that is capable of sharp black and white text. However, I found color images in documents to be a bit blurry and faded. There are also issue with misaligned text on the page and the brand new printer keeps requesting to be restarted due to technical issues and makes grinding noises. A good concept that is flawed.

Whats in the box?
- the printer
- power cord
- ink cartridges
- printer head
- MP-101 paper for print head adjustments
- Getting Started mini manual
- CD with print drivers and Canon software

A manual is not included, but you can download a PDF from the Canon website. Also not included is the USB cable for connecting the printer to you computer directly.

Before you can use the printer, you must install the print head and the cartridges, the instructions for which are shown pictorially in the quick start. Next you are supposed to align the print head. The instructions show that you can initiate the alignment by pressing one of the three buttons on the printer, but I never got this to work. Instead, I was able to align the heads once the printer was installed by following the directions in the online manual I downloaded from the Canon website.

To connect to the printer wirelessly in the access point mode, you must first print out the printer information which includes the WPS pin code. This is done by holding down one of the three buttons on the printer. Connecting to the printer required reading the manual to find out how to connect. Alternatively, you can connect to the printer via a USB cable.

I chose to download the print drivers from the Canon website instead of using the included CD. I did this because I didnt want all of the Canon software installed on my machine. The installation was quick. I also installed a supplementary driver from the Canon website for color printing.

The printer truly is small enough and light enough (4.3 lbs) to be portable. The only flaw that I see with the portability is that the cover is held in place with a magnet and I could easily see the cover coming open if the printer was in a backpack, for example. It would have been nice if a snug fitting bag of some sort had been included to prevent the printer from opening. What also would have been nice would have been a document retainer that could be extended from where the prints come out of the iP110. As it is, papers come out and are either deposited on the surface the iP110 is sitting on or are sent to the floor if the printer is on the edge of the surface.

Like many inkjets, the iP110 doesnt print as soon as you send it a print job for the first time since the printer was turned on. It must first make a series of whirring noises for several seconds before it finally begins to print for the first time. Text is sharp as would be expected. However, color prints were a bit disappointing. Colors were faded in images and images were a bit blurry. The prints were not nearly as good as my other Canon printers.

Even though I aligned the print head once the printer was installed, I was still seeing jagged lines running through my print about 1/3 of the way down the page. I aligned the print heads again manually, but the problem remained.

The printer periodically requests to be restarted due to issues.

On the third print job I ever sent the printer, it began to make this horrible grinding noise after the print had been ejected. The noise continued until I unplugged the printer. At other times, I have also heard grinding noises, but never as loud or as harsh as the first time.

I really wanted to like this printer. It is small and easily transportable. I can see it being very useful at a display booth at a conference or if you are on the go and need access to a printer. As a black and white document printer, the iP110 would be perfect if I could only get rid of the band of wavy text on the page. However, dont expect a lot out of the printer in terms of color printing. I am also disappointed that it has technical issues right out of the box and required effort to align the heads. None of my other Canon printers had issues and they worked right out of the box.

Hammerhead HLMT100 Compact Laser Measuring Tool
Hammerhead HLMT100 Compact Laser Measuring Tool
Price: $49.99
2 used & new from $49.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A solid laser measurement tool, November 27, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Overall, a solid, mid cost laser measurement tool with a bright, easy to read screen. The tool is straightforward to use. The accuracy of 1/8" will be acceptable in most cases. In comparison, the range and accuracy of the Leica DISTO D2, are twice as good as the Hammerhead, but at four times the cost.

Whats in the box?
The laser measurement tool, a USB cable and an adapter to plug the USB cable into a wall outlet.

Fit and Function
The tool is small enough to fit comfortably in your hand. The edges of the tool are coated with a hard rubber to allow for a good grip on the tool. The plastic case is light, but with a bit of heft due to the battery at the bottom of the tool.

There is a power button on the side and a button on the front marked "measure" which you press to make the measurements. The power button is used to switch between the three measurement modes: single measurement, area measurement and continuous measurement.

Single measurement mode is just that, for a single measurement. In area mode, you measure the length and width of a rectangular object and the tool calculates the area. In continuous mode, the dimension shown on the screen changes as you move the tool relative to the surface on which the measurement is being made.

The screen is black with bright, white lettering which makes the numbers easy to read without needing a flashlight. In the single measurement mode, the screen shows the current and the last two measurements. This is a great feature if you are repeating a measurement and want to be able to see the differences. In the area mode, the screen simultaneously shows the width, length and the calculated area. In continuous mode, just the current measurement is shown.

To make a measurement, you press on the "measure" button which turns on the laser. You must then press the measure button again to actually make the measurement. The button has a bit more resistance that I would like and so you move the tool a bit as you try to press the button down.

All measurements are taken from a reference at the back of the tool and this can not be changed. Other laser measurement tools like the Leica DISTO D2 can be set to measure from a reference at the front of the tool which can be handy in some situations. The Leica DISTO D2 also has a metal end piece which I find useful for stablizing the tool when making measurements from floor to ceiling. The flat surface at the bottom of the Hammerhead laser measuring tool is not very large and so the tool likes to rock a bit when you are pressing the measure button.

The measurements can be made either in Imperial or Metric units. The screen will dim after a few seconds and the tool will shut off after three minutes of sitting idle.

The range is 100' (30 m). In contrast, the Leica DISTO D2 can measure up to 60m.

The smallest unit that the Hammerhead laser measuring tool can measure is 1/16" (1mm) which will be acceptable to most people unless you really need a very precise measurement. The measurement itself can be off by 1/8" (3mm). This is the same as the comparably priced Bosch GLM-15. Again, this wont work for super precise measurements, but it will be acceptable in most instances. In comparison, the Leica DISTO D2 has an accuracy of 1.5mm, or twice as good as the Hammerhead, but at almost four times the cost.

I made a number of measurements with the Hammerhead tool and compared them to measurements using a tape measure. While both include measurement error, I was using the tape measure as the standard for the comparison. I found the accuracy to be within the 1/8" at short and long distances.

The battery and charging
Note that the USB cable that I received only worked with the included wall plug. There was something in the way it fit into the USB socket on the wall plug that made it impossible to plug it into any other USB socket. I could, however charge the measurement tool using other micro USB cables.

While the rechargeable battery is nice from a environmental standpoint, I do have concerns about it. I have been using a different laser measuring tool at a job site well outside of town with no power hookup other than the cars and a portable generator. Inevitably, someone always forgets to replace the batteries (or in the case of the Hammerhead, to charge the battery) after the batteries run out of charge. With a laser measuring tool that used AAA batteries, I could always replace the dead batteries so that the laser measurement tool could be used right away. With the internal, rechargeable batteries that the Hammerhead uses, swapping batteries on the fly is not possible and one would have to wait for enough of a charge from a USB port in the car to use the measuring tool.

Pioneer XW-LF1-L Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Pioneer XW-LF1-L Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Price: $149.00
2 used & new from $99.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, portable speaker that is easy to set up. However, the sound produced from the speark is tinny., November 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Whats in the box?
You will find the Portable Bluetooth Speaker, an AC adapter, a USB cable, a mini stereo cable for a wired connection to your device, a carry bag and a rubber pad onto which the speaker can be placed for stability.

What you will not find in the box is an instruction manual. Nor can you find one on the Pioneer website. So setting up the speaker is guess work, but it is intuitive if you have paired devices in the past. However, it would have been nice if Pioneer had included a quick connect guide with the speaker.

Alternatively, you can download the Pioneer application and once downloaded, the app will show instructions for pairing your device to the speaker.

Pairing my NFC enabled Android phone with the speaker was really easy. First I turned on NFC on my phone. Next I pressed the control key on the back of the speaker that looked like it had a transmit icon. Lastly I put my phone on the speaker and within a few seconds, the phone had turned on Bluetooth and was playing music out of the speaker. Simple.

I also connected my iPod which has Bluetooth, but not NFC. Again it was a matter of turning on Bluetooth on the player and then pressing the button on the back of the speaker. The speaker appeared on the list of discovered devices on the iPod and once I selected it, the devices were paired. Easy.

The speaker is small and light making it very portable.

Sound Quality
Here is where the XW-LF1 is a disappointment. While I wasnt expecting booming bass, I was expecting to be pleased with the sound. I listened to different types of music and in each case, the music sounded like it was coming from a tin can. It wasnt just that there is little bass support from the speaker, the highs were over emphasized and the mid frequencies neglected to the point that the music was distorted.

Through the application, you can switch the speaker into party mode to try to achieve a bit of a richer sound. However, this is at the expense of battery life and the sound is still mediocre. There is also an equalizer through the app which allows a degree of customization of the sound. However, I still found the sound tinny even with the use of the equalizer.

The speaker has a lot going for it. It is small and light and the battery is specified as having a run time of 7 hours making the speaker a good choice as a portable speaker. Connecting to different music players is easy. However, the sound quality of the Pioneer speaker is disappointing at this price. I really would have expected better. While it is true that the Pioneer speaker is half the cost of the Bose Bluetooth speaker, for example, the savings in price with the Pioneer speaker compared to the Bose speakers are due to a compromise in sound quality.

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