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Reviews Written by
Nick "whereishawkins" RSS Feed (Chicago)
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   

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Wine Skin WineSkin Bag, 2-Pack
Wine Skin WineSkin Bag, 2-Pack
Price: $9.99
13 used & new from $3.58

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful non-resuable bags to ship wine/alcohol in., October 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this to contain some alcohol I was shipping in my checked luggage from the US to China. All the while I thought - this got great reviews and looks indestructible - how will it hold up to the logic-defying treatment of airport baggage handlers? Well, two bottles made it safe and sound. Even if the baggage handlers did somehow break the bottle, I feel confident that it wouldn't leak into the luggage due to its double seal at the bottom.

Keep in mind that these aren't reusable. They are one trip only, but totally worth the cost.


Love Thy Neighbor (an Unexpected Love novel) (Entangled Lovestruck)
Love Thy Neighbor (an Unexpected Love novel) (Entangled Lovestruck)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn’t put it down!, October 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I know that technically this is listed as a romance novel, but for me it just read as a great story about two memorable characters who overcome their flaws and weaknesses in order to be together. Wintner touches on the human condition and the fears associated with what it means to love and be loved. As someone who is experiencing something like this in real life, it really resonated with me.


Buff Wool Headband: Black
Buff Wool Headband: Black
Offered by pipeline24
Price: $26.16
30 used & new from $21.74

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best accessories I've ever purchased, October 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Buff Adult Wool Headwear
I travel extensively and often go from crazy climates to another. Sometimes I need a cap to keep my head warm, or sometimes I need to cover my face because of cold or pollution. Sometimes I just need a scarf to cover my neck. But I don't want to carry excessive things in my pockets or bag that I'll never use. A number of years ago, I bought a polyester buff because I saw "Long Way 'Round" and it came in very handy. It kept sweat out of my eyes and the sun off my neck in South America and in Asia, and it kept pollution of out my nose and mouth in China. And it held up through years of abuse.

Now that winter is coming and I need to prepare to exercise outdoors, I need something that will serve multiple purposes. In the few weeks that I've had the merino wool buff, I've used this as a winter hat to cover my head and ears and I've used this as a balaclava while cycling to keep my nose/face/head/neck warm. The fact that this has so many uses and it's versatile means this will be my go-to accessory when heading out in brutal midwest winters.

It's a great accessory and you can't go wrong with it. Worth the investment.


SOL REPUBLIC PUNK Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Black, 1510-31
SOL REPUBLIC PUNK Wireless Bluetooth Speaker - Black, 1510-31
Price: $69.99
5 used & new from $50.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good pocket sized bluetooth speaker, October 14, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Sol Republic Punk bluetooth speaker is a good pint sized speaker. However, smaller speakers won't give you that deafening sound that you might want, but will do the job in small rooms.

Getting the speaker attached was rather simple - standard bluetooth pairing and you're connected without issues. No issues with plugging in directly via headphone jack. Battery life was under the 8 hours listed - I got around 6.75 hours with bluetooth turned on with a bit over 2 hours to fully charge the device. Sound quality was pretty good, although felt distorted when turned up at full volume. The rubberized case feels like it can take some abuse.

One of the common gripes I have with bluetooth speakers is that you really can't determine battery status other than "full"/"medium"/"low". There's also no visible LED so I can't tell if the speaker's on or not. There's no included pouch/bag and the included 3.5mm jack was very short. There's also no way to use this as a speakerphone, which (to me) isn't a feature I would use but it's a bit strange to see speakers at half the cost support it. Overall, this is a decent enough speaker but I'd also look at other options in this sub $60 pocket sized speaker space.

3.5 stars


NOCO Genius Boost GB30 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
NOCO Genius Boost GB30 12V UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter
Price: $129.95
7 used & new from $129.95

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing emergenc jump starter, October 13, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This device is fantastic. It really shows how useful lithium ion batteries can be in more than just cell phones.

If you have visions of the huge lead acid thing that parking garages lug around to jump start dead cars, think again. The first thing you notice when holding this jump starter is just how light it is. The cables themselves weigh more (only slightly) than the unit itself. It has just three buttons, and you only need to use one of them to operate it under normal conditions.

This will not spark, and won't cause damage to your battery if you hook it up backwards. Because I have to see things for myself, I turned it on and touched the leads together. Nothing. I connected it to my car battery, and everything lit up just fine.

What's great about this?

* Light weight. Seriously. The unit is just one pound, and the cables just a little bit more than one pound. Pretty simple to keep in your trunk.
* Standards, standards, standards. It has a standard USB jack to charge your other devices, and has a micro USB jack to charge the unit itself. That's right. It accepts the same chargers that your phones and everything-else-that-charges-with-usb uses. No proprietary chargers to lose and break.
* Water resistant. Looking at the manual, it has an IP65 rating with the ports closed. This means so much more than something saying it is "weatherproof". It means that it actually meets the standards set to be completely dust tight, and can resist water jets being sprayed at it. It can't be immersed in water, but you can carry it from the trunk to the hood of your car in the rain to jump a vehicle without worrying about any shorts.
* The battery lasts a year between charges. I can just set a reminder to charge it up every year and know that we're set.

I do wish it came with some sort of carrying case. I do carry my emergency supplies in a toolbox in the trunk, but I know that isn't the case with everybody.

The price makes this totally worth it. $130 to not have to find somebody to jump my car in some strange neighborhood? No waiting for AAA to come by to jump start me? Sign me up. We will be buying a second one soon.


Run: A Novel
Run: A Novel
by Andrew Grant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.71
74 used & new from $7.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid thriller that makes for a great read, October 6, 2014
This review is from: Run: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Run is a solid thriller that would make for a great airplane book. Marc Bowman has a very bad day, going from a layoff to being on the run from various government agencies and bad guys. Marc's not the most likeable guy, but has to rely on his wits to stay one step ahead. There's sardonic humor and decent dialogue and the flow of the book was pretty solid.

As someone who works in IT, I felt that the tech portions were handled pretty well and somewhat accurately (it's always a thing to check for.) If there's any criticism to be had, it seemed like there was one or two too many twists and turns for my liking. There's enough material for more books, and I'm hoping that Grant writes more pageturners.

4.5 stars. Excellent read for those who need something on long plane rides.


Goal Zero 94014 Rock Out 2 Green Solar Rechargeable Speaker
Goal Zero 94014 Rock Out 2 Green Solar Rechargeable Speaker
Price: $129.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great solar powered speaker at a premium price, October 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a big fan of Goal Zero's products, even though I'm an indoor kid. But when I was looking at the cost of this speaker compared to some of the Amazon Basics ones, I thought - wow, that'll be a hard sell to make this impressive to me considering the cost. And to Goal Zero's credit, they impressed me but that initial "wow" decreased over time. Overall, this is a decent speaker but I can't really recommend it.

The speaker is the size of a heavy hardback book (Harry Potter-sized), and feels extremely rugged and sturdy. This looks like it could take some serious abuse and still go. The interface had nice sturdy buttons. I was able to connect my iPhone 5s and iPad mini without any real issues via Bluetooth, and was enjoying that I could put the phone inside of the speaker. You could also use this as a speakerphone via Bluetooth as well. There's also a headphone jack that you could use to connect non-BT devices.

The sound quality was pretty impressive. I gave it my standard 2 hour playlist of everything from Top 40 to classical to EDM and didn't notice any distortion. The sound was nice and string music came across as pretty crisp. I think that it would serve the needs for most people who need to jam to their music while out but audiophiles probably will be disappointed.

The device is rated for 10 hours when fully charged when connected via the headphone jack, but I got a hair under 7 when via Bluetooth. That's to be expected. Charging times via solar were roughly 8 hours and a little over 2 hours via USB. There's no real easy way to know how much battery life the speakers have, though. You can see the LEDs when charging but not when it's playing. That seems like an oversight.

The price is a kicker. At $130, I kind of feel like I wanted a bit more. Now, if this could play music and charge my phone at the same time, I would be a happy man. The Eton Rugged Rukus does it, and it's over $50 less than the Rock Out 2. So if I were to recommend a solar powered Bluetooth speaker, the Eton would be my first choice.

3 stars.


Go! Go! Smart Wheels Fire Command Rescue Center Playset
Go! Go! Smart Wheels Fire Command Rescue Center Playset
Price: $26.57
10 used & new from $16.97

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great playset for young toddlers, October 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been looking for more age appropriate toys for my son and the Go!Go! Smart Wheels set did the trick. The bright primary colors drew my kid's attention to the playset, and he focused like a laser on the playset. The track is small and can be reconfigured to something other than in the photo, but also can be expanded upon. The trucks are of decent size and are well built. The music and sound effects weren't loud enough to become overly annoying, which is great.

For $30, this is a great playset. I like that my kid is happy, and I like that we can expand this as he gets older and lets his imagination take over. The set is simple enough that my son isn't overwhelmed but we can grow the set as he grows.

4.5 stars


Black and Decker CM3005S 12-Cup Tea and Coffeemaker
Black and Decker CM3005S 12-Cup Tea and Coffeemaker
Price: $61.73

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a marvelous coffee machine!, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ever since my Keurig died, I needed something to feed my caffeine habit. One cup at a time didn't really work for me. The Black and Decker 12 cup coffeemaker is great. Not only can I alternate between 1-4 cups and 5-12 cups (I call this "after dinner" and "breakfast", respectively), but I can choose the strength. Coming from cheaper models and a Keurig, this coffee maker feels like a quantum leap forward.

The machine itself is pretty solid. The front mounted buttons and display are marvelous. This feels like a well designed and professional level coffee maker. I like that I can make tea with this as well! The "sneak a cup" feature is pretty cool - I can pour a cup quickly and put it back and let the rest brew, sort of a "preloading." I've never had that feature, so it's a novelty to me. And the machine is easy to use! I was truly worried that I would have to learn a new machine (I want something simple if I am not functioning because of lack of caffeine.) And I can set a schedule to kick off a brewing. That's helpful for me.

I've always been intimidated by expensive coffeemakers and I had to doublecheck that the price was correct - for under $65, this looks and feels like a nicely designed model at twice the cost. For performance, it does a great job and I'm hoping that this will bring me joy (and coffee) for years to come. 4.5 stars.


Roxio Toast Titanium 12 Mac
Roxio Toast Titanium 12 Mac
Price: Click here to see our price
28 used & new from $87.94

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flagship DVD authoring software but overkill for most, September 24, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Roxio Toast is the flagship DVD burning software for Macs. However, it's been years since Macs have actually included optical drives. For those who need to do simple things like burn files to an optical drive, this is overkill.

So who's this for? If you're looking for one program to import media, from photos in Lightroom/iPhoto to iTunes music to footage taken from camcorders, create interaction and DVD menus and burn it to DVD/BD, this would be mostly it. In a sense, this did what iDVD used to do before it was discontinued. I was disappointed to learn that I can't author HD to a blu-ray drive (that requires Toast Titanium Pro.) It's a bit insulting that it requires an additional plugin at this price point.

There's a fair amount of video editing/conversion tools that are fairly simplistic to use, even if they did periodically crash when converting mkv to mp4 files during tests of files that I had on my drive. The more technically inclined users can use a free tool like Handbrake instead (which seems to work wonders for me.)

Overall Roxio Toast Titanium 12 is just ok. It's not great, it's a bit pricy and is truly a niche piece of software. Unless you plan on mastering DVDs and Blurays of videos, then this is probably not the tool for you. There are free/open source burning software that will do basic burning jobs that might be worth the investment. In an ideal world, I'd like to see this software bundled with an external Bluray writer (along with a bluray player for OS X.)
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2014 12:38 PM PDT


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