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A. Dent "Aragorn" RSS Feed (Minas Anor, GD)
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (#1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   

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Peakeep®  120W 5 Way 3 Socket Car Splitter Adapter with 2.1A+1A Dual USB Car Charger for iphone 6, iphone 6 plus, 5, 5s, 5c, 4s, 4, ipad and ipod, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, S2, Galaxy Note 2, Note 3, HTC one, Kindle, Tablet Computers, MP3 Players, GPS, Ebook and More (White)
Peakeep® 120W 5 Way 3 Socket Car Splitter Adapter with 2.1A+1A Dual USB Car Charger for iphone 6, iphone 6 plus, 5, 5s, 5c, 4s, 4, ipad and ipod, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, S2, Galaxy Note 2, Note 3, HTC one, Kindle, Tablet Computers, MP3 Players, GPS, Ebook and More (White)
Offered by MyeHome
Price: $19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars No longer need to choose between the GPS and 'everything else', April 12, 2015
Unlike those little adapters that plug into your 12v/24v round socket, aka 'the cigarette lighter' and give you 1, 2 or more USB charging ports at the expense of not being able to use plug anything else directly into the socket, this one splits it into THREE (you gain 2) and it has 2 USB charging ports on the side, all in once reasonably good looking body. I actually like this one - received as a 'for review' item from vendor - because my small call dilemma was always 'use the round charging port for something else and forget about the GPS or keep the GPS plugged in and forget about charging the phone while driving and such. Lacking a round port splitter, the GPS always won. With the Peakeep plugged in not only can I have the GPS and other things feeding off the same power source but, thanks to the long cable, I can actually use both coffee holders while one was blocked by the large GPS plug before.

Of course, this draining power directly from your car's battery, some caution is in order and make sure you unplug anything that's likely to drain your battery while the car is idle and your port is not design to stop supplying power when the car is not running.

One nice touch, the adapter comes with an extra, easy to replace fuse so, if you don't misplace it, because it's small, you should be able to quickly recover if you manage to blow the one that's already built in.

It's five stars for a genuinely useful item.


Two Volcanoes Whole Bean Coffee - Delicious Flavor From Organic Coffee Beans. Great for Espresso. Single-Origin, Exclusive Medium Roast From San Marcos, Guatemala. Cultivated, Processed & Packed in Origin to Guarantee Freshness & Best Possible Flavor. 16 Ounce Bag
Two Volcanoes Whole Bean Coffee - Delicious Flavor From Organic Coffee Beans. Great for Espresso. Single-Origin, Exclusive Medium Roast From San Marcos, Guatemala. Cultivated, Processed & Packed in Origin to Guarantee Freshness & Best Possible Flavor. 16 Ounce Bag
Offered by TheRightSupply
Price: $29.97

3.0 out of 5 stars Two Volcanoes, One Medium Roast Coffee, April 12, 2015
The coffee, which came as a 'for review' sample, is smooth and, I suspect, it would have a great flavor if it was freshly roasted. However, the bag I received, containing beans 'cultivated, processed and packaged in origin' lacks half the flavor and taste punch you would normally get from freshly roasted beans. It's good coffee though but, speaking for myself, a 'dark roast' person, I would find it hard to justify a purchase.

If you are a medium roast drinker and feel like tasting what 'real' Guatemalan coffee is like, with the understanding that some of the punch was lost in transit, go for it. Get yourself a small bag and decide for yourself.


New Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) With Voice Search
New Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (4230R) With Voice Search
Price: $99.99
2 used & new from $99.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands on and FAQ, April 10, 2015
For some background, besides this one we've used an 'old' Roku 3, a Roku Stick and an LT in the past, we also had a Chromecast ever since its launch and an Amazon Fire TV. We've used so many streamers because we stopped subscribing to satellite TV a couple of years ago.

MY EXPERIENCE

For anyone new to the Roku world who wants to have 'everything' in a streamer, I would recommend this 'new and improved' Roku 3 over any other previous models. For the same level of raw performance but lacking 'in remote' voice search, the new Roku 2 is available for less. And, of course, for a basic, small footprint and therefore very portable, inexpensive streamer, there's always the Roku Stick.

True for all Roku models: there's an enormous amount of channels to choose from, including most popular ones. And if there's something that you can't find in the official store you can always check the private channel listings (I included the URL of my favorite site as the first comment to this review) which is where I found things such as streaming CNN, CNN International and BBC World.

The streaming on this Roku 3 is exceptionally smooth. Quite impressive considering that I set it on the second floor, some 60-70 ft. and two floors away from our Wi-Fi router located in the basement.

This model especially, thanks to its new, more powerful processor and Roku's great user interface is easy to operate through Roku's remote control.

Roku 3 and all Rokus are stable. I only had this model for a few days now (will update if needed) but my experience with all the other Rokus we've used was that a Roku rarely crashes and I only had to manually reconnect to my Wi-Fi router once over the past year

The 'universal search' feature is as good as you get in a streamer. You simply type in or with voice search say the name of a movie or show even an actor and you will see all your options on all supported channels which tend to be the 'major' ones and you will know in advance whether it's going to be free or exactly how much it was going to cost to rent it or buy it. On this Roku 3 all information appears almost instantly. Even better, with the new Roku Feed feature, you can even ask to be alerted when certain newly released movies become available on the major on demand services such as Netflix or Amazon or Vudu.

_______________________________________________________________

THE FAQ

I will try to keep this section as objective (factual) as possible.

Q: Why would I want a Roku?
A: Roku has, by far, the largest number of 'channels' vs. any other competing product. If you like exploring content beyond the popular services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) you should consider a Roku? Now, that voice search was added, it matches all other streamers. The Rokus have the advantage of being 'equal opportunity streamers' because, not having their own content store to favor and promote, they are a lot less biased when compared to the other major streamers and that's good for 'us'.

Q: What's different about this model?
A: This 'new and improved' Roku 3 supports voice search and adds the Roku Feed feature that alerts you when your favorite movies and shows become available on major on-demand providers.

Q: If I subscribe to several services, will Roku help me decide on my best options concerning a particular movie or show?
A: Yes, Roku Feed does 'comparison shopping', showing which services offer the content for free, which offer rentals or are selling it for for exactly how much.

Q: If I already have a Roku, is it worth upgrading?
A: Probably not unless you must have voice search or want Roku Feed's comparison shopping feature ASAP. I expect a new Roku model that would support UHD (4K) to be announced soon.

Q: Do I need a Roku if I have a 'smart' TV?
A: My experience with smart TVs is that their interface tends to be complicated and they have a limited selection of content providers. Roku has thousands of channels.

Q: Does this model have an Ethernet (wired) port?
A: Yes, this model supports wired connections.

Q: What other ports are available?
A: Besides Ethernet, this model supports playing media off USB and has a microSD slot for memory expansion.

Q: Does voice search cover all providers?
A: No, but the major ones: Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, etc. are covered.

Q: When I shouldn't pick a Roku 3 over other Roku models?
A: Roku 3 does not support 'standard' (non HD) TVs but earlier models do. Roku 2 is a less expensive alternative if you don't care about voice search. You should pick the Roku Stick of small size (portability) is important.

Q: What can I play through the USB port?
A: Video: MP4 (H.264), MKV (H.264); Audio: AAC, MP3; Image: JPG, PNG.

Q: Is the Roku 3 expandable?
A: Yes. There a MicroSD slot for additional game and channel storage memory.

Q: Can I use a Roku 3 with any TV lacking an HDMI port?
A: No.

Q: Does this model support UHD (aka 4K) resolution?
A: No.

Q: What are the best screen resolution and audio supported by Roku 3?
A: 1080p, 7.1/5.1 surround sound.

Q: Is the Roku 3 energy efficient?
A: According to Roku, typical power consumption is 3.5W when streaming HD video.

Q: What is not included but I must have to make my Roku 3 work besides a TV and an Internet router?
A: An HDMI cable.

Q: Can I control the Roku 3 with a universal remote?
A: Yes.

Q: What other control options do I have, besides the provided remote control?
A: Apps available for Android, Apple and Microsoft phones and tablets will let you use them as a Roku remote control.

Q: Do I need line of sight to control the Roku 3?
A: No if you use Roku's own remote, yes if you use a universal remote control.

Q: Can I play games on the Roku 3?
A: Yes, Roku 3 supports games.

Q: Are the Roku channels free?
A: Many of them are but Roku also streams 'premium' channels for which you will require a separate subscription.

Q: What are private channels.
A: These are channels that, for whatever reason, are not listed by the channel store. You can easily make them 'appear' on your TV by picking them from one of the sites that lists such channels.

Q: How much it costs to use a Roku?
A: Once purchased, it could cost you nothing. Or you may subscribe to one or more premium services.

Q: Can I have more than one Roku tied to one account?
A: Yes.

Q: If I have several Roku devices and I add a channel to one of them, will it appear on all my Rokus?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I search for a specific movie or show across all of Roku's channels?
A: Yes, you can. Even better, Roku will not only tell you which channel carries it but you will know in advance if it will cost you and how much it will cost to view or 'rent' it. You can also search for other related information such as movies featuring one specific actor.

Q: Can I watch YouTube on the Roku?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I cast YouTube on a Roku device off my computer?
A: Yes, Chrome is aware of streaming devices such as Rokus or Chroemcasts on your home network and will allow you to cast.

Q: Can I send music, photos or videos to my Roku off my phone or tablet?
A: Yes, for current Apple, Android and Windows 8.1 or higher devices. Windows did not support video casting at the time I am writing this.

Q: Can I get live news channels on the Roku?
A: Yes. You may be able to find such channels at the store or as private channels listings but most US 'mainstream' news channels only offer a selection of recent on-demand videos. [I have a link to a listing of 'Roku channels that contain at least one live TV feed' on the comments section, the FIRST comment to this review. Be aware that the listing may not be complete, that some of the channels are 'premium' and that some of them may drop live streams.

Q: Are non-video streams supported?
A: Yes, radio stations and music streaming channels such as Pandora are supported.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 15, 2015 4:20 PM PDT


Reagan: The Life
Reagan: The Life
by H.W. Brands
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.92

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reagan Light or rather Light on Reagan, April 9, 2015
This review is from: Reagan: The Life (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
H.W. Brands likes to tell a long story, and it shows. Hats off to his or possibly staff's effort to amass enormous amounts of facts directly or incidentally related to Ronald Reagan's life and then present them to us, readers, in ways that would make it possible for us to understand 'the man' and 'the times'. That was the plan and it worked, in my view, to some extent.

Interestingly, there's not a lot about 'Ronald Reagan as a man' per se or "Ronald Reagan's character and motivations" the book heavy in selected historical background and the book's object flashing in and out, sometimes taking advantage of opportunities, at times fighting the odds but with rare hints of the 'whys'. Ronald Reagan grows up, goes to school, becomes an actor, his small-time Hollywood fame fades, does radio, does politics and... there he is, elected president, deciding on very important things and making a big difference in the world. Hundreds upon hundreds of pages and it's not quite clear what made Reagan.... Reagan. The author depicts him as a mediocre student, failed football player, so-so B-movie actor and, yet, there he grows, whether you agree with him or not, into one of the most significant US Presidents of the 20th century.

Brands tells a good story and, here and there, reading the book actually helped me understand who things used to work way back then. There some some good pages on the transition from silent movies to talkies and on the early days of television, on the infighting at the Screen Actors Guild during the commie scare, on the assassination attempt and the October Surprise investigations. Surprisingly, a lot of history is only hinted at. There's very little on the WW2 and Reagan's work during the period, nothing on Hiroshima and the nuke arms race that followed and Reagan's views on the topic. The Korean war... like it never happened. Vietnam is barely mentioned. How did Reagan feel about the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Timothy Leary, the Beatles, Watergate... don't know. Even more surprisingly, there's only little on Reagan's relationship to Nancy. Nothing or almost nothing on his children as they were born and grew up. In many instances an event involving Reagan is described, then Reagan is shown doing 'something' but often we don't understand why. Interestingly, some of the best written parts of the book are actually Reagan's own writings. His heart-felt letter to his son, some of his radio stories are well written, seem to come straight from the heart and yet we don't know how this supposedly mediocre student, confirmed 'disengaged' father and manager, came to write and speak the way he did.

I would explain many of the gaps involving Reagan's personal life to the author's lack of direct access to those close to him, most of them being very old or no longer among us. The skipping of sometimes years or decades may be justified by Reagan not doing much newsworthy during those periods but, this being a biography of Ronald Reagan, I'd expect a more inquisitive research and more on what drove Reagan not just on what he did that made the news headlines, especially in a book so many hundreds of pages long.

Having read Ed Morris' heart-felt, novel-style, first person told Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan some years ago might have biased me against Brands' "just the facts m'am" approach, given that so many facts don't make it into the book. 700 pages later, somehow I feel that I don't know much more about Reagan than I did before reading started. These being said, it's a good and easy read.


Ugreen High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 90 Degree Right Angle Supports 3D and Audio Return Compatible for Blu Ray Player, 3D Television, Roku, Boxee, Xbox360, PS3, Apple TV etc, 3ft/1m
Ugreen High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet 90 Degree Right Angle Supports 3D and Audio Return Compatible for Blu Ray Player, 3D Television, Roku, Boxee, Xbox360, PS3, Apple TV etc, 3ft/1m
Offered by UGREEN GROUP LIMITED
Price: $10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Generic but good, April 9, 2015
I am not going to write about what an HDMI cable does, something I used to do years ago when HDMI was a 'new thing' because most of us know what to expect from one. This one, offered as a 'for review' item by vendor, appears to be HDMI 1.4x, which means it will work well with just about everything you have unless you are looking for 4K resolution at 60 fps support, in which case you should look for an HDMI 2.0 wire.

Its distinguishing characteristic is, of course, the 90-degree angle at one end which... you will know that you need it if you already have an HDMI cable with a 'straight' connector and you can't use because of where it's place on your equipment. Other than that, it's quite generic but it works well which is very much what I expect from this type of wire meant to live in places where it's rarely seen or touched so it's good.


vius® Screen Cleaner 8oz for LCD, LED, Laptops, Monitors, Phones and Other Touch Screen Devices
vius® Screen Cleaner 8oz for LCD, LED, Laptops, Monitors, Phones and Other Touch Screen Devices
Offered by Vius
Price: $6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Makes the grade, April 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Vius was acquired from vendor for review purposes, via a deep discount coupon.

Well... in 2 words: "it's good". Or was it 3 words?

Several things I look in a screen cleaner and this one seems to have them:

- It's gentle to the screen because, after all, first do no harm. Being alcohol-free gives me some confidence that it is not going, overtime, to degrade whatever coatings might exist on my electronics.
- Leaves no streaks behind. Used with a microfiber cloth, you'll never know it was there.
- It actually cleans. I am not planning to eat on my monitor screen so I don't need something that takes care of heavy grease and ketchup but I do want fingerprints and dust removed and this one does it.
- Pump works. Yes, it does.


Chicago Cutlery ProHold 14-Piece Dual Knife Block Set, Non-Stick Coating, Black
Chicago Cutlery ProHold 14-Piece Dual Knife Block Set, Non-Stick Coating, Black
Price: $75.99
2 used & new from $75.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I'd buy it if I wasn't an obsessive cook and my kitchen was small, April 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I hate using 'entry level' when talking about items that most of us are using every day but... it's true. Chicago Cutlery's ProHold is an inexpensive set that won't let you down and, at least for a while, is going to actually look good in your kitchen in an innovative, minimalist-cubist modern way.

Why is it 'entry level'? Well... there are only 6 basic special knives plus the 6 non-serrated steak knives and the steel is clearly not 'best quality'. It also lacks some accessories we normally see in the more expensive sets such as kitchen shears and a sharpening tool. Which is okay because... have you checked the price? Getting a dozen reasonably good knives for this amount of money is actually a pretty good deal.

And, let's talk about the positives because I absolutely like the design and presentation. The black coated blades look impressive and the grips not only look super-sleek, they actually do give you a good grip. The block is in fact TWO blocks, one of the 6 steak knives, black, and a larger one for the 6 special knives in a light, wood texture. They are completely detached and can be kept separate or together, it's everyone's choice. The set is also a space saver. Yes, it's because you don't get as many knives and accessories as other sets provide but, if 'small size' is a plus, this one qualifies. While not the best knives in existence, I expect the set to last for quite a few years if properly maintained.

For the record, this is what you get in knives:

- 6 steak kives, 4.5"
- Chef's, 8"
- Bread, 8"
- Partoku, 5"
- Utility, 4.5"
- Parer, 3.5"
- Peeler, 2.75"

That's it. I'd buy it if I wasn't an obsessive cook and my kitchen was small.


Potatoes Russets Fresh From Idaho - Bundled with Red Potatoes. Top rated, Most consumed, Comfort food in the world. 10 lbs Total Fresh Produce, And a personal article from GOLDRIVERS.
Potatoes Russets Fresh From Idaho - Bundled with Red Potatoes. Top rated, Most consumed, Comfort food in the world. 10 lbs Total Fresh Produce, And a personal article from GOLDRIVERS.
Offered by GOLDRIVERS
Price: $24.97

5.0 out of 5 stars You say Idaho, I say Potato, April 2, 2015
As a child, the person responsible for sending me one box of potatoes for review and his sister used to dig potatoes from their garden, wash them and eat them fresh. What can I say, I remember trying that once as I was spending summers at my grandparents farm but... no thanks, turns out I preferred tomatoes and strawberries. But that doesn't matter because potatoes, you can cook and, if you don't mind paying a premium for a box of nice potatoes to be delivered right by your door or maybe thrown into your driveway by the friendly UPS person, this is a box of darn good potatoes. Don't expect anything out of the ordinary, but they are nice, reasonably clean, healthy Russet potatoes and they make good fries and they bake good too.

And, remember, potatoes are low in sodium and high in potassium, full of fiber and cholesterol free and these are all good things, or so they say.

So, yeah, great potatoes and you don't need to bring them home yourself.


Black & Decker HF100WD Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer, Black/White
Black & Decker HF100WD Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer, Black/White
Price: $124.99
8 used & new from $99.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Hot Air, April 2, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With his ticking timer and rotary dials for time and temperature, this B&D air air fryer looks and feels almost old-fashioned but that matter little because what does is its ability to make-believe fry stuff without actually doing it or at least not with that abundance of dreaded, overheated oil that I find increasingly hard to tolerate - because heartburn and such.

So, what does 2L capacity mean and how does it do it? Well... it's rated to do 250g or 1/2 lb. in 16-20 minutes. That's about ONE sliced Russet potato. That should produce near-perfection. However, I tried TWO potatoes, lightly coated in oil and 30 minutes, shook the tray at half-time and the outcome was quite acceptable, i.e. reasonably cooked, moderately crisp, heartburn-free fries, so it's good. The manual has a page dedicated to suggested recipes ranging from chicken nuggets and pizza rolls to turkey burgers and the suggested capacity is something like 6-8 chicken wings, 4 fish fillets, 4 chicken drumsticks, 2 turkey burgers, etc. So it's not cooking a lot of food but, if you want to avoid the frying and still have something that's fried-like, it's probably worth using this.

Operation is 'easy'. The 2 dials in front control temperature, up to 400F and time. Both the pan and the contained basket come with some good non-stick coating which makes them easy to wash, especially if you follow the instructions and stay away from over-greasy items. There is a button that releases the pan off the overall body and another one that allows you to separate the basket which is good for washing or if you want to shake the contents a little half-way through the cooking cycle.

My testing so far indicates that you can get some pretty delicious food out of this machine for as long as you stick to the suggested amounts. It's a good appliance if you don't mind its large weight and size and low output. But, if quality matters and eating truly fried stuff is a no-no, this is one way to beat the system.


Annke® 4CH 720P PoE NVR HD Security Camera System with 4 Indoor/ Outdoor Night Vision 720P HD IP Security Cameras Smartphone Scan QR Code Quick Remote Access NO HDD (NO HDD)
Annke® 4CH 720P PoE NVR HD Security Camera System with 4 Indoor/ Outdoor Night Vision 720P HD IP Security Cameras Smartphone Scan QR Code Quick Remote Access NO HDD (NO HDD)
Offered by Security Sannce
Price: $219.99
2 used & new from $219.99

5.0 out of 5 stars DIY Outdoor Kit, April 2, 2015
Annke's system, provided as a 'for review' unit by vendor, turned out to be an excellent DIY kit, probably best suited for outdoors surveillance, quite inexpensive considering the features and capabilities.

First, let me spell out what you get with your purchase:

- video recorder unit
- mouse
- remote control
- 4 weather-proof, night vision cameras
- 4 15m (about 15 ft) Ethernet cables for connecting the cameras to the main unit
- various mounting screws
- a mini CD with all important documentation
- a manual that explains the various setup options and ways to configure the system and install related apps on your phones
- an Annke decal warning trespassers that the area is being surveilled
- an Annke promise of support together with tech support email addresses

What you do NOT get is:

- a video display (provide your own and it could be one of your TVs)
- HDMI cable to connect the recorder to the TV
- Ethernet cable to connect the recorder unit to a router

The manual is very good at explaining the various options and how to replace-upgrade the internal SATA HDD but, as expected, there's not much advice on the physical layout. Without actually deploying the system by mounting the cameras, I was able to test its features and these are my findings.

Both the real time and playback pictures are crisp and at a steady 25 fps per channel when watching on a monitor directly connected to the main unit via HDMI. The quality is not as good on a phone but that was expected so, no surprise there. The video was good even when in night vision mode, thanks to the IR LEDs on each of the cameras. The manual is pretty good at explaining how to set you recording to motion detection only, continuous (better have a large HDD) or on a schedule.

While wireless cameras may seem cool but they still need a power cord and the image quality is sometimes an issue. The wired cams provided achieve a nice compromise by drawing their power off the Ethernet wires so, in the end, it's a 'one wire to the camera' setup.

The 4 cameras is a hard limit for this system and that's a limitation but... check the price. This is meant to be a small, inexpensive and, yes, limited, DIY kit so make sure that 4 cameras is all you will ever need before deciding to go with it.

I am going to rate this a 5 stars (I love it) for reasons of it being inexpensive, extremely capable for the price, relatively easy to configure and expand its storage with of the shelf HDDs and well documented by a well-written manual. However, be prepared of some serious wiring and be aware that the cables provided are 50 ft so if you need different lengths you will have to provide them yourself. Also, I would say this should not be used as an indoors system because it would be quite easy for an intruder to trace the Ethernet wires from the cameras to the recording unit but for outdoors, it's great.


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