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Customer Reviews: 2220
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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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Discover it®
Discover it®

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The process, exactly how it is/was, November 21, 2014
This review is from: Discover it® (Financial Product)
Since I've applied for the card, I received it and I've been using it for a couple of weeks already, I thought it would help sharing my experience so far.

APPLYING ONLINE - IT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING

I didn't need an extra credit card but... $100 is quite an incentive so I clicked on the link.

First impression was not 'good'. The online application process worked up to the point where they were asking for some proof of either residence or income, can't remember. I should have been able to upload them a PDF but that part simply didn't work so I was forced to call the toll-free number and complete the process with a human person.

A HUMAN TAKES OVER - ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

The human interaction part was quite good actually if I don't count the fact that I was investing more time in the process than I expected but I ended up speaking with a very polite and competent representative who helped me email the PDF as an attachment. I wrote 'competent' because she noticed that I already had a Discover card (had not used it in more than 10 years) and she explained that I did not qualify for the $100 reward. However, she told me that there was a way for me to actually get it, which was for me to close the existing account. She offered to do it for me right away which she did.

EMAILS

I received a confirmation email shortly after I sent the PDF. It stated that it may take a few days for the process to complete. Eventually, must have been 3-4 days later, I received another email informing me that the credit card was on its way.

DELIVERY AND FOLLOW UP WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE

The card arrived via FedEx and everything appeared to be as promised. As I activated it, I spoke to another well mannered customer service person who confirmed that the $100 would be awarded after I actually used the card to make some purchases.

USING THE CARD - FIRST OKAY, THEN DENIED

My first and second charges were I believe a $1 followed by a $3 charge at my workplace's cafeteria. Then... DENIED as I attempted to buy gas. And then DENIED again at a store. I wasn't happy but it was a busy time for me so I simply stopped trying to use it. One day later, I noticed an email from the Discover 'fraud' team letting me know that I won't be able to use the card unless I confirm my initial purchases at their site. I believe it's their way to ensure that I completed the setup at their site which is used to make payments. Setting up my user ID there didn't take too long and, once I confirmed my first 2 purchases I was informed that I could use the card freely now. Ahhh... what a privilege.

LIFE WITH DISCOVER CARD

I didn't use the card much since but I did make a couple more purchases and I paid my first statement's balance online. All went well.

As promised, they do offer 2% cash back on gas and maybe other purchases and, I believe 1% on everything else. The earnings are updated with each statement but I believe you need at least $50 worth of cash back to actually get anything back. Don't quote me on that because it could be $20. I simply can't remember but I will update this once I claim my first cash back bonus.

AND HOW ABOUT THE $100?

I'm not patient enough to go through the fine print so I called customer service again asking for confirmation that the $100 was coming. Their customer service, by the way, is very responsive, well mannered and competent. Within 30 seconds of me calling the toll-free number I was on the phone with Skyler from, I believe Nebraska and she explained it all to me.

The $100 is a gift certificate code that's emailed to me some 8 weeks after my first purchase. This means that it should arrive in about 5 or 6 weeks. And, if I do not get it as an email, Skyler volunteered without me asking, they will be happy to give me the code over the phone.

So... there. With the exception of the embarrassment of having my charges denied twice and the online application process not working, which was a good thing because the human person closed my old Discover account and therefore made me eligible for the $100, all was good so far. I really appreciate their customer support system where the FIRST thing they ask when you call, before even asking to punch in your account number is whether you wanted to speak with a human person and them actually connecting me with a human person within seconds.

RATING

This was my experience and, of course, others may have a different story to tell. My advice is, before completing your application, speak to a customer service person and have them confirm that you are going to be eligible for the bonus, if approved. In my case, the representative I spoke helped me apply the 'right' way.

So, yes, it's 5 stars. I will try to remember to come back and update this in a few weeks to confirm actually receiving the promised bonus and whatever hoops, if any, I had to jump through to get it or... not.


Newisland® 3x3 Speed Cube Torpedoes For Pros New Anti-POP Structure Eco-friendly Plastics Cube Phoenix (Sticker)
Newisland® 3x3 Speed Cube Torpedoes For Pros New Anti-POP Structure Eco-friendly Plastics Cube Phoenix (Sticker)
Offered by YaMiYo
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Stick It to the Man, November 21, 2014
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The man is Dr. Rubik, of course.

I am not sure what 'for pros' means in the context of a cube puzzle, even though it would be interesting and quite neat to learn that some can make a living as 'pros', playing the cube. This one, by the way, came as a 'for review' sample and, as always, no strings attached.

This model distinguishing characteristics are its use of stickers and more importantly, its fastest, so far, operation of all the cubes I've ever tried. There is almost no resistance when twisting it around and yet it holds itself in place once you're done twisting. Which is very good. Also, it comes with these nice, non-traditional colors and that is good too - see images at Amazon's page.

The cube comes with a little carrying bag which is pretty tight but it's possible to use it to 'carry' it. There's also a manual that teaches beginners the basics of cube-twisting.

It's five stars for an excellent, extremely easy to manipulate cube that you may also use while outside under heavy rain (the use under heavy rain not tested by this reviewer). I am not sure why 'stickers' are a good thing. One of our kids suggested that you could peel them off and solve the puzzle by rearranging them but I didn't try that either.


Voice remote for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
Voice remote for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
Price: $29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick Essential - makes the difference, November 21, 2014
Amazon's Fire TV Stick is a great streamer because of more up to date hardware and specs when compared to Google's and Roku's but the one thing that makes Amazon's product stand out is the voice search ability.

I wouldn't call it 'essential' or 'indispensable' but voice control is the one feature that give's Amazon's product personality and differentiates it from the competition. If you hate 'typing' with your remote and would rather speak to it when searching for content, this is what you want.

Of course, and understandably, voice search does not work inside all non-Amazon services such as Netflix but it does work on some today and they include Showtime, Hulu, Crackle and Vevo and I expect that more will be added in time.

When deciding whether to get this add-on, I would get the Stick first and, if I find it worth keeping and decided that voice search would improve my experience, I'd get the upgraded remote.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2014 6:52 AM PST


Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser, 6.75 fl. oz.
Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser, 6.75 fl. oz.
Price: $22.00
2 used & new from $22.00

4.0 out of 5 stars It's effective, November 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Cleanser was tested by one of our kids who's going through his acne, oily skin phase of his life and, actually to HIS surprise it works quite well. He is using it at night, before bed and, after the first 10 days or so, his skin has improved or so he's telling me.

The cleanser is indeed effective but, as I mention above, he can only use it at night because... well... it smells. It's not overwhelming but... we know teenagers, they can't stand embarrassment. The other issue is, of course, price. There are similarly effective cleansers that can be had for significantly less and are even fragrance-free.

Our kids suggests 4 stars for 'it works well'.


Pinnacle Studio 18
Pinnacle Studio 18
Price: $59.95
25 used & new from $58.27

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Corel's Studio in the Basement, November 19, 2014
This review is from: Pinnacle Studio 18 (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Corel's Pinnacle's Studio 18 is the lower of the three Pinnacle 18 Studio packages, with the Plus and the Ultimate supporting more capabilities and coming with more features that you or may not need in exchange for, of course, a higher price. Get the Plus if you want to do 5.1 sound and, by all means, save and get yourself the Ultimate if 4K support is one of your requirements.

Installation went actually well on my kid's Windows 8 laptop. Once I chose 'typical' which translates into 'full install' it was all automatic and it all completed in less than 30 minutes which included the inevitable patch.

The bare-bones Studio 18 is okay as far as features and capabilities but there may be some that should persuade you to pick one of the higher packages. Screen capture, for example, is not supported here and it's one feature that I would say is worth getting. Also, this version being limited to only 6 audio/video tracks vs. 24 on Plus and unlimited on Ultimate might made you consider one of the better configurations. And there is no upgrade path so choose wisely and plan ahead. Once installed and patched, the product ran well.

This is, overall, a bare-bones package and it would not recommend it to anyone given that only a few more dollars will get you the much more capable Plus. I would have rated this a 3 stars for an okay tool that lacks some of the more useful features if it wasn't for Corel's always unfriendly sometimes bordering to 'hostile' way of treating its customers. Examples? Okay. As soon as the product was registered, an friendly email came, titled "Welcome to your 14 day free warranty support". What happens after that? You guessed right. Be prepared to pay.

And, if you have more than one computer in the house and are wondering where you Pinnacle software should be installed, you better pause and think before you act because according to the EULA:

"You may install the Software on only one computing device. You may not install the Software on another computing device unless the original computing device fails. In the event of failure, it will be necessary for you to contact customer service and request approval to reinstall the Software on a new computing device. You will be required to certify that the original computing device failed, and will be provided with an activation code that will enable to you install the Software on another computing device for the remainder of the term."

Friendly. No? And, of course, you do not really 'own' anything. The EULA clearly states that "The Software is licensed to You, not sold to You." However, if your disc on which the licensed software is damaged... well... you are not going to get a replacement after 90 days no matter what and if the disc that holds your licensed software get damaged within the 90 day 'warranty' period you better have proof that it wasn't your fault or you are not going to get a replacement. Not so sure how Corel's warning that you are NOT going to get a replacement disc if the original is damaged rhymes with 'you get a license to use our software' but... whatever.

So, how do I rate a competent video editing package that lacks some needed features and is marketed by a 'not so nice' organization? It can't be '3 stars' because that stands for "It's Okay" and I don't like the way Corel supports the users of this Pinnacle Studio 18. 2 stars stand for "I don't like it" and that seems to be fair.

Get the more capable Plus or Ultimate if you must but, remember, you are very much on your own once you paid for the product that the 14 days of free support expire.


Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus
Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus
Price: $99.95
25 used & new from $95.55

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Corel's Studio-in-the-Middle, November 19, 2014
This review is from: Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Corel's Pinnacle's Studio 18 PLUS sits between the 'regular' Pinnacle 18 (no Plus) and Pinnacle's ULTIMATE and, as expected, is a little more powerful and more feature-rich than the bare-bones Studio but lacks some of the more exotic gee-wiz ones found in the Ultimate such as 4K support.

Installation went actually well on my Windows 7 laptop. Once I chose 'typical' which translates into 'full install', I received the following modules - it took quite a while, by the way, possibly 20-30 minutes to complete:

- Pinnacle Studio Application
- Standard Content Pack
- Hollywood FX Vol 1-3
- Premium Pack Vol 1-2
- Scorefitter Vol 1-2
- Creative Pack Vol 1
- Title Extreme

Which translates into more features and capabilities that I will ever use or need or even think about using, which is good. Once installed and patched, the product ran well. A little slow which I blame on my laptop but without freezes or crashes.

This versions comes with 1800 2D/3D effects (didn't count them but that's what Corel claims and they are indeed 'many'. It also has a number of royalty-free music tracks, Scorefitter libraries for creating custom soundtracks, allows direct capture of my computer screen together with sound, and so for.

What I am trying to say is that this is, overall, a good package and it would be an easy 5 stars rating given the relatively low price considering the features if it wasn't for Corel's always unfriendly sometimes bordering to 'hostile' way of treating its customers. Examples? Okay. As soon as the product was registered, an friendly email came, titled "Welcome to your 14 day free warranty support". What happens after that? You guessed right. Be prepared to pay.

And, if you have more than one computer in the house and are wondering where you Pinnacle software should be installed, you better pause and think before you act because according to the EULA:

"You may install the Software on only one computing device. You may not install the Software on another computing device unless the original computing device fails. In the event of failure, it will be necessary for you to contact customer service and request approval to reinstall the Software on a new computing device. You will be required to certify that the original computing device failed, and will be provided with an activation code that will enable to you install the Software on another computing device for the remainder of the term."

Friendly. No? And, of course, you do not really 'own' anything. The EULA clearly states that "The Software is licensed to You, not sold to You." However, if your disc on which the licensed software is damaged... well... you are not going to get a replacement after 90 days no matter what and if the disc that holds your licensed software get damaged within the 90 day 'warranty' period you better have proof that it wasn't your fault or you are not going to get a replacement. Not so sure how Corel's warning that you are NOT going to get a replacement disc if the original is damaged rhymes with 'you get a license to use our software' but... whatever.

So, how do I rate an obviously competent video editing package that's marketed by a 'not so nice' organization? It can't be '4 stars' because that stands for "I like it" and I don't like the way Corel supports the users of this Pinnacle Studio 18 Plus. 3 stars stand for "It's Okay" and the software is indeed Okay, I would say better than Okay, perhaps 'great' considering the price. 2 stars is for "I don't like it" and I don't like the support but... 3 stars should be the fair rating at this time and I reserve myself the right to come back and adjust it as I spend more time using it.


Sunbell Solar Lamp & Phone Charger, Yellow
Sunbell Solar Lamp & Phone Charger, Yellow
Offered by Advanced Rescue Products
Price: $79.95
3 used & new from $79.95

4.0 out of 5 stars It's innovative and useful but someone else needs/wants it, November 17, 2014
Not everyone in our world has access to abundant electricity. I fact, I am aware of places where being able to shine a light at night is a big deal. Then it's 'first world' backpackers who sometimes feel the need to 'phone home' while in the middle of nowhere. But... don't you fear, the Sunbell Solar Lamp & Phone Charger is here and, thanks to its ability to charge itself through its solar panel, you can have dozens of hours of light following a sunny day or your could almost fully charge your phone and... phone home.

Yes, this is not a 'very easy to use' product. You need to take some affirmative actions if you are to collect the solar energy into the lamp's battery. And, it being a multiple use 'thing', there are wires to plug/unplug, parts to snap in and out. But there rewards are the ability to use it as a lantern, a flashlight, a reading lamp and, of course, a phone charger. Like I said, most of us, sophisticated and affluent Amazon shoppers may never need or may never bother to use the Sunbell but I instantly knew who was going to get my review sample - yes, I received a free unit for review - someone I know will leave soon for one of those places where electricity is not 'a given' and she to give it away to someone who needed it.

Technically speaking, the Sunbell works as expected. It collects enough power on a sunny day for its light to last through the night if turned on at the lower intensity and, while not quite enough to fully charge a phone, it will deliver enough juice to support a few phone calls. It took me a while to fully figure it out but, once I learned how to assemble it in its various configurations, doing it again was almost second nature.

Like I said, I 'like' it but maybe its natural users won't be able to afford it.


Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000 Smartseries with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000 Smartseries with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great toothbrush but giving up all personal information is not an acceptable trade, November 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In order to fully access the toothbrush' features one must have a Bluetooth 4.0 capable phone and then download and install the 'Oral-B' app for iOS or Android.

On the Android version my phone says that this app can access the following:

- Record audio (why?)
- Approximate location (network based) (why?)
- Precise location (GPS and network based) (why?)
- Read calendar events plus confidential information (seriously? I mean... SERIOUSLY?)
- Modify or delete the contents of your SD card (sure, why not?)
- Read the contents of your SD card (of course, my SD card is your SD card)
- Full network access (hey, go ahead, fully access my network)
- View network connections (sure, everybody does, no?)
- Access Bluetooth settings (now this one I understand)

If Oral-B's intrusiveness seems to be 'too much' well... I kind of understand. There is zero need an no justification for a toothbrush manufacturer who gets paid over one hundred dollars to claim for itself the right to read my confidential information just because the product has the ability to communicate with my phone and the app allows me to keep track of my toothbrushing sessions. You either let me access your confidential information, monitor your moves and grant me all the privileges outlined above, Oral-B seems to say or you won't be able to use your phone to monitor your toothbrushing which, by the way, is one of the features you paid for when you bought the product.

Strange.

The app, by the way, seems to be the only way of knowing which of the 6 'modes' the brush is operating on: daily clean, deep clean, sensitive, whitening, massage or tongue cleaning and it don't believe it's in fact possible to switch modes unless your toothbrush is connected and you are using the app. So... there. You either give up your privacy or... no tongue cleaning for you. Ever or until you change your mind and let Oral-B into your deepest secrets.

The app aside, the manual seems to be generically written to cover several models, including the one that does not need Bluetooth but uses what Oral-B calls the 'SmartGuide' which is a module that connects to your brush locally and does everything the phone app provides, only it does not attempt to access any personal information that's not tooth-brushing-related. I would have expected a manual that's specifically about the product when said product is bought for over one hundred dollars. I really don't need a chapter on wall-mounting the nonexistent SmartGuide by using the non-existent adhesive ring.

Going back to the app, it's nice to have some stats being tracked even though I rarely deviate from my toothbrushing routine but it's hard for me to understand why the app would show me information about 'the weather' or some 'news' while I'm brushing my teeth. Oh well...

Now, the toothbrush itself, I like. And this is coming from someone who's been using a Sonicare product twice a day for the past at least 15 years if not longer. I like the energetic brushing action, I like the fact that there are several brush head models to choose from and I like that the brush supports half a dozen 'modes' and that you are reminded to switch 'quadrant' every 30 seconds.

In fact, I like this toothbrush so much, I would have considered switching and betraying Sonicare IF there was a way to switch modes without allowing Oral-B's app to send over my personal data and who knows what else to Oral-B.

The good news is, such a product does exist. It's the excellent Oral-B Precision Black 7000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush 1 Count. Anyone who cares about privacy and wishes to use a great alternative to Sonicare should go with the '7000' instead.

My rating is 5 stars for the brush itself and zero stars for the Bluetooth connectivity. The 2.5 average is further reduced for this model making the brush modes feature inaccessible unless the invasive Oral-B app is used. So, 2 stars it is.

__________________________________________

Note:

Just to explain where I am coming from. Yes, I understand that 'everybody does it', or at least that's what the general view is but there is a big difference in my view between me agreeing to give up some of my private information in order to be allowed to use some 'free' service and me actually PAYING lots of money for a product that, after I purchase, I find I can't fully use UNLESS I agree to let the vendor into my private life or data. This is not a fair exchange because I've already paid for the product.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2014 5:28 PM PST


Stanley Piranha 8 Inch Premium Scissor, Gray (SCI8TINS)
Stanley Piranha 8 Inch Premium Scissor, Gray (SCI8TINS)
Price: $15.29

5.0 out of 5 stars P for Precision, November 16, 2014
I received the Piranha as a 'for review' item but, of course, no under the table deals.

The 5 stars are well earned because this happens to be a good quality, well made, precision cutting pair of scissors that seems built to last.

The packaging lists 10 important features such as Titanium coating, water-resistant stainless steel body, the ability to cut through sticky tapes, ergonomic grips, etc. And, yes, what's important is that you are getting a dependable, durable cutting tool. Just make sure that the 'cutting' part is well understood because this is NOT a child-proof or foolproof thing.


PaperPro Prodigy Stapler, Black/Silver (1110)
PaperPro Prodigy Stapler, Black/Silver (1110)
Price: $21.54
46 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Once You Try the PaperPro Prodigy You Never Come Back, November 16, 2014
The PaperPro was provided as a 'for review' item but, of course, there were no under the table deals.

It's a five-star because this may be one of those once or twice in a lifetime situations when 'marketing' does not exaggerate, or not by much anyway.

The Prodigy has 2 qualities that make it stand out: the ability to handle a large number of sheets while of a small size and it operating almost jam-free. Both are not usually associated with staplers.

I tested the PaperPro with 2, 10, 20 and 25 sheets, with the standard staplers provided and it performed as advertised. The staplers went trough and not much effort was required. Then I stapled 4 sheets 20 times and there were no jams.

The PaperPro is a good choice for home, office or, in this case, a classroom (I donate most items I receive for review).


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