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Customer Reviews: 53
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Helpful Votes: 879

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Steve E. RSS Feed (Los Angeles)

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Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter, 10.5-Pounds
Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Clumping Litter, 10.5-Pounds
Offered by Gatzies
Price: $22.73
8 used & new from $9.25

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible product, going back to clay again., February 26, 2015
I've been using Fresh Step for years because I found it was the only cat litter that could consistently mask the smell of cat urine and feces, and it was easy to clean. But I've always hated that it's clay-based, so when I saw this bag of Arm & Hammer Essentials on sale at my grocery store, I decided to give it a shot. All natural, no dust, better clumping performance... sounds perfect, right? Wrong. This product failed in every way in my cats' litter box. First of all it does NOT mask the scent of cat urine at all. The strange scent from this litter actually exacerbates the scent, making the litter area smell like an open bottle of ammonia. Second, it does NOT clump better than clay, or even anywhere near as good. It creates tons of smaller clumps that fall apart as you're scooping them out, creating double or triple the work. I would spend almost 5 minutes trying to get every clump out of my oversized litter box, but I'd eventually get frustrated and give up. Finally, when cats pee on this stuff it sticks to the sides of the litter box, making a full cleaning incredible difficult. When emptying and scrubbing the box out the other day, it was like a paste that stuck tenaciously to the plastic. Gross.

After only a couple weeks I gave up on this stuff and went back to Fresh Step. It truly is the best cat litter in terms of odor control, clumping, and ease of cleaning. I wish there was a natural alternative that worked as well, but there really isn't, and this is why I've stuck with it for going on 11 years now for my cats.

PLC Lighting 262 AMBER 1-Light Wall Sconce Kiana Collection, Satin Nickel Finish and Amber Glass
PLC Lighting 262 AMBER 1-Light Wall Sconce Kiana Collection, Satin Nickel Finish and Amber Glass
Price: $27.71

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, warm lights, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These are beautiful light fixtures that worked perfectly in our newly redesigned bathroom, which is composed of dark slate flooring, beige shower and sink, teak vanity and mirror, and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures. We have a pair of these positioned on either side of the teak mirror above the vanity. I spray painted over the stainless steel areas with oil-rubbed bronze ($5 at Home Depot) so they really match our decor now. They put out a warm orange glow, so they aren't really adequate as your main lights, but work great as accent lighting. Love em!

Bamboo Placemats Set of 6 by The Little Bamboo - Great for Everyday Use, Easy to Clean, High Quality - Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Bamboo Placemats Set of 6 by The Little Bamboo - Great for Everyday Use, Easy to Clean, High Quality - Satisfaction Guaranteed!
Offered by The Little Bamboo
Price: $24.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Great match to Thirstystone bamboo coasters, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
These mats match the Thirstystone Bamboo and Faux Leather Ambiance Coasters, Multicolor wonderfully, being more golden in color than the Amazon photos show. Together they make an excellent combo and this is a great price for the 6 placemats.

Tales From Earthsea [Blu-ray]
Tales From Earthsea [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Bunta Sugawara
Price: $24.96
34 used & new from $16.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly capable and accomplished movie, February 18, 2015
Let me quickly summarize my feelings of the movie for those that don't want to read more than a couple sentences: Tales from Earthsea is a gorgeous and mysterious movie that focuses on how the mutual love and respect of 4 very distinct characters ultimately overcomes the dangerous plans of an evil wizard. It has very little to do with the Earthsea books to be honest, but it stands on its own as a very unique and underappreciated movie. For me, it is a must-see for any fan of traditional fantasy and Ghibli-style animation.

For starters, this is an absolutely gorgeous film that holds up to the best of Studio Ghibli animation. Colors can be exceptional, especially on good plasma sets. The scene where Arren is wandering through the swamps before Cob steals his body is one such example of the absolutely sublime and beautiful color that is hidden in this film. And the shots of Theru's house in the summer, with its deep blue skies and rich green grasses, are a perfect contrast to the dim and bleak palette of Cob's fortress. There's something very honest and straightforward about this animation. It might not knock you over the head like Spirited Away, but it has a childish enthusiasm (and adult talent) that sets it apart from most other anime of its time. It's accomplished without being perfectionist.

As for the story, you can nit pick it all you want, and there are some valid points to be made about its meandering nature and vague back story. However, I think its true message still shines forth. The movie is really a story about how two troubled children - one abused by her parents and taken in by a lovely and caring woman, the other possessed by an evil alter-ego and on the run from it - develop a love for each other that is the key to thwarting the apocalyptic plans of a deranged wizard. That's about as fantasy as you can get, and I wholeheartedly enjoyed the simple and traditional storytelling. And in typical Ghibli fashion, we are shown the hopes, fears and joys of these simple characters, and while the end result may not be as emotionally powerful as those in Hayao Miyazaki's own films, it is every bit as genuine.

The English dub is exceptional with Timothy Dalton especially standing out as a perfect voice actor for Archmage Sparrowhawk. His lines are delivered with perfect poise and restraint, in the spirit of a wizard from a world like Guin's. Willem DaFoe also does a terrific job, transitioning between the overly-confident "first" Cob to the desperate, maniacal "second" Cob. While I admit there could be some better exposition and clarification to these characters and their motivations, all the actors do a great job with the lines they are given. I can't imagine different actors taking over these roles, so kudos to the English casting team for putting together a diverse and capable cast.

Also noteworthy is the accomplished sound mix presented on the BluRay. I was immediately immersed in the world of Earthsea, and was quite impressed by the level of detail and the mix between the sound effects and music. It is an easy 5/5 for this kind of movie and is best enjoyed in a nice surround sound environment. Cheers to all the sound recordists, foley artists and music producers involved in this project - you guys never seem to get the credit you deserve, but you definitely deserve it for this one!

All in all, Tales From Earthsea is a surprisingly capable and accomplished movie that really deserves attention, despite its usually critical reviews. It looks beautiful, is voice acted perfectly, sounds incredible, and fulfills all the basic requirements of a good fantasy story. The characters aren't fully flushed out and motivations are murky, but if you like Studio Ghibli animation, and are a fan of good old fashioned fantasy storytelling, give Tales From Earthsea a shot - you won't regret it.

FortuneCat ® Wood High Quality Dual Headphones Stand/Hanger for Bose QC15, Sony MDR-XB500, Sennheiser HD 202 II, Shure, Ultimate Ears, Koss PortaPro, JVC, Philips, Monster Beats Solo Studio Pro, Skullycandy, Coby, Platronics
FortuneCat ® Wood High Quality Dual Headphones Stand/Hanger for Bose QC15, Sony MDR-XB500, Sennheiser HD 202 II, Shure, Ultimate Ears, Koss PortaPro, JVC, Philips, Monster Beats Solo Studio Pro, Skullycandy, Coby, Platronics
Offered by GeekriaDirect
Price: $18.50
2 used & new from $18.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Looks nice; is actually crap, February 10, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Same complaint as a previous reviewer - the nut in the top of the post is barely held in the wood with any bite, so when I screwed in the top piece, it actually pulled the nut out of the post (see photo). This is a really cheap and flimsy method of assembly. The nuts weren't even placed straight into the wood, they were both at bad angles that required me to forcefully bend them back into position. The wood is nice so it's a shame everything else about it sucks. Returning for a refund and searching for something more professional than this.
Comment Comment | Permalink

Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV (2013 Model)
Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV (2013 Model)
15 used & new from $1,550.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The last great plasma TV!, December 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Outstanding TV. Seriously, that's all that needs to be said, but I'll offer a few details to make this a more substantial review :)

First of all, anyone looking at this TV probably already knows that plasma is a dying breed, with Panasonic leaving the industry in 2013 and Samsung out at the end of 2014. LG is the only TV maker that hasn't announced the end of their plasma lines, but with the introduction of OLED TVs recently, it's basically only a matter of time until LG exits and plasmas are officially a thing of the past.

That's why this Samsung F8500 is so appealing to those of us who appreciate the rich contrast, colors and warmth of plasma but don't want to spend a fortune for an OLED. It is the only plasma left - as of December 2014 - that rivals the Panasonic and Pioneer plasmas of the past, and is about as updated technology-wise as you can get. I personally don't care about the Smart TV features like gestures and voice control, or even all the apps you can launch from it. I just want to watch BluRays, well filmed TV shows and occasionally sports, in the highest quality possible. That said, it offers a wealth of features that many would appreciate and even I may come to enjoy.

The main selling point to this TV is its picture quality. It's not going to win any awards for design, but it hands down beats any LCD or LED TV out there in the picture department. My first test on this TV was a BluRay of the Danish movie The Hunt, and I was blown away by the detail in every scene. From the threads on an actor's sweater to a person's eyelashes, it was simply a joy to watch. Colors were warm, whites were amazingly white, and blacks were accurate and rich. Common things to say about a plasma, but in this case, they were some of the best I've seen outside of the Panasonic series from 2012. FYI, I haven't done any calibration but used the following settings which produced outstanding results for movies: Picture mode: Movie, Color: Warm 2, Motion Control: Cinema Smooth (24p), Contrast: 90%, Brightness: 45%, and HDMI black level: Normal. Many people will prefer the HDMI black level set to Low, which produces those inky blacks that only plasmas can achieve (until OLED, of course). However, I found that Low is almost TOO dark for me, reducing detail in shadows and darker textures, like brown or black hair or nighttime photography. Pause a movie when looking at someone's black hair, then switch back and forth between Low and Normal and you'll see what I mean. Low removes almost all detail in the hair with its heavy contrast boost, and Normal - while perhaps not as immediately attractive - retains a more natural balance that I believe is truer to the original conditions on the production. Regardless of my preference, movies just look so incredibly good on this TV, and you'll find a combination of settings that works best for you.

In closing I just want to say that if you've been on the fence about what TV to buy, and have been comparing the top of the line LEDs to plasmas and even OLEDs, rest assured that you can do no wrong by buying this TV. The 51" is still available at a really good price (under $1,000 at the time of this review), whereas you'll have to shell out a lot more for the 60" or 64" models. I personally opted for the 51" because of that price and because my TV room is very small and we sit maybe 5 feet away from the TV. No regrets about not getting a larger model. I echo the sentiments of everyone else on here - get one while you can, and enjoy the plasma experience!
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2015 10:49 AM PST

North America [Blu-ray]
North America [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Various
Offered by amazingwildcat
Price: $13.02
37 used & new from $11.68

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An Americanized attempt to mimic BBC Earth, September 8, 2014
This review is from: North America [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I'm a huge fan of everything the BBC nature unit has put out ever since Blue Planet, so I decided to give N.A. a try. I couldn't make it through the series. Typical American ADHD-style video editing, really cheesy music that kills the ambiance of the photography, and overly dramatic narration (sounds like the guy who does PG-13 movie trailers). It basically fails on all levels when compared to something BBC Earth has produced like Life or Africa. I highly encourage serious nature documentary lovers to look there and pass over this one.

FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black)
Offered by Etailz
Price: $75.99
14 used & new from $64.95

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behringer UCA202 user no more!, July 31, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I was researching a desktop DAC/Amp combo for weeks, after getting frustrated with my cheap Behringer UCA202. It's a fine device for what it is, but it has two main limitations: lack of power in the amp, and an annoying click in the audio every time it kicks on after a period of silence. It also does not have the best noise floor, with a faint but audible hiss in the background when listening on headphones at high volumes. But I did like the inputs and outputs and the tiny form factor. So I began my hunt for its replacement using the criteria of it being under $200, having improved sound characteristics, and with the same general layout. I narrowed it down to the FiiO E10K, Yulong U-100, Audinst HUD-MX1, and Aune T1. While all have their unique features and advantages, in the end the modest price of the E10K was too good to pass up.

Now that I finally have this thing in my hands and have listened extensively to it, all I can say is I can't believe this thing is only $75. The headphone output is considerably stronger than the UCA202's, with absolutely no noise. Everything is clean, flat, and accurate sounding on my Ultrasone Pro 550s. The build quality is great, everything is metal except the two toggle switches. It comes with four little rubber feet you can attach to the bottom so it doesn't move around on your desk. Two more great features are the bass and gain switches. The bass boost is tasteful - not boomy but definitely present. It really fills out certain music or games if your headphones aren't naturally bassy. I find myself using it more than I thought I would. And the gain switch is great, allowing for a much wider range on the amp. I only have lower impedance headphones at the moment so it's set to Low, but I bet the High setting will come in handy whenever I get something like HD650s.

When you consider most other quality DAC/Amp desktop combos are in the $150 and up range, you realize what a value this little guy is. But don't let its diminutive size fool you - this thing packs a punch and will make a big improvement over generic computer audio or entry level stuff like the UCA202. A great purchase and highly recommended.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 2, 2015 3:11 PM PST

Flowtron BK-40D Electronic Insect Killer, 1 Acre Coverage
Flowtron BK-40D Electronic Insect Killer, 1 Acre Coverage
Offered by Tradecozone
Price: $58.91
19 used & new from $46.27

2.0 out of 5 stars Only kills moths and other night insects, no effect on flies or gnats, July 23, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Our elderly dog stays out on the patio for most of the day and attracts flies like you wouldn't believe, so to alleviate her annoyance I bought this Flowtron zapper based on all the positive feedback. Since installing it in a corner of the patio, it hasn't killed one fly that pesters our dog; in fact, I haven't heard it zap anything at all during the day. As soon as the sun sets it starts doing its job, but only on moths and other large flying insects that don't bother me or the dog anyways. I actually felt bad killing these kinds of insects, as it prevents other creatures from their regular diet, like spiders. So unfortunately it's basically useless to me now. Hopefully Amazon will accept a return of this, and if anyone knows a zapper that is effective during the day against flies, gnats, and other low-flying insects that hover around animals, please let me know!

Stubb's 9-Pound All-Natural Charcoal Briquets
Stubb's 9-Pound All-Natural Charcoal Briquets
Price: $19.13

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stubb's makes some of the best charcoal out there, July 1, 2014
$18 for a 9lb bag? For the longest time Amazon was selling their 15lb pound bag for less than $9 ( Stubb's makes some of the best charcoal out there, but this is getting a 1 star rating until the price/size issue returns to normal.

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