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Customer Reviews: 24
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Kit Parenteau "Geek" RSS Feed (Westminster, CO United States)

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TNP New 3DS XL Case (Light Blue) - Plastic + Aluminium Full Body Protective Snap-on Hard Shell Skin Case Cover for New Nintendo 3DS LL XL 2015
TNP New 3DS XL Case (Light Blue) - Plastic + Aluminium Full Body Protective Snap-on Hard Shell Skin Case Cover for New Nintendo 3DS LL XL 2015
Offered by TNP Direct
Price: $9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty construction and badly-shipped, May 11, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a tricky product to purchase. The page this product is on has numerous styles of product, which means it shows reviews for all the styles by default. That means that the perfectly fine reviews for the hard-plastic-only cases drown out the legitimate dislike of the aluminum colored case reviews. I should have done better research on the nature of the reviews before not-buying this instead of buying it.

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The Praise (Good Stuff)
====================
+ It's a pretty color of blue.

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The Raze (Bad Stuff)
=================
- Shipped by the seller in a flatpack resulting in crushed contents
- Weak materials. The hinges are soft plastic and very easily capable of breaking even before arrival.
- Shoddy construction. The plastic interior is glued to the aluminum exterior with a glue that is not suitable for adhesion to aluminum.

======================
The Haze (Things to consider)
======================
* Not impact-dampening.

==========
The Details...
==========
Aluminum is a great, light-weight material for making things and it holds some very nice-looking colors well with powder-coats. The case does successfully capture a delightful color in the metal shell, however that is where the positive things end.

====================================
"Make something good? Too costly! Cut corners!"
====================================
The seller likely does not manufacture this object, so they have that going for them at least. The case itself is a two-piece assembly with a soft-plastic inner shell and a powder-coat aluminum outer case. Sadly a good amount of the trouble here could be remedied if the product was shipped properly and not crushed in shipping as a result of the packaging used. Then it would be down to the very small plastic bridge for the hinges for the most part.

The soft plastic does mean that the hinges have some give rather than just shattering, and also provides some form-fitting protection for the device inside. Unfortunately the lack of size of the hinge arm makes the hinge itself very weak and prone to breakage.The hinges are not completely necessary for the case to be there, but it comes off much more easily without them.

The thing the seller, TNP Direct, does not get a pass on is the packaging for shipping. Shipping the object in a flat-pack offers zero resistance against crushing during shipping and crushing abounded. The outer cardboard of the packaging will end up just fine, but the case inside ends up crushed and bent severely, making it unusable if not broken.

===============
Now I shall break...
===============
The end result, as numerous other people have encountered, is that the aluminum portion comes unglued and the hinges fail.

Also note: This is NOT meant to protect the device from impact. A dropped Game Boy will still break quite effectively. This will look nice and help against scratches on the 3DS. That is all.

=========
In the end...
=========
Feel free to take your chances. Perhaps the seller will wisen up and stop shipping crushable packaging. Maybe your 3DS won't be subject to normal everyday use and so the hinges will hold up just fine. Perhaps you'll buy it from a different seller that doesn't use bad packaging. However I would not recommend it.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I'm always happy to answer them and update


Seneo 3rd 100ml Essential Oil Diffusers Aroma Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers
Seneo 3rd 100ml Essential Oil Diffusers Aroma Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifiers
Offered by HaborDirect
Price: $25.99
2 used & new from $15.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome for scent, less-so for humidity, December 11, 2015
*Seller-Requested Review* - Review for Seneo 3rd 100 ml Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser - If this review appears on another product, please let me know in the comments.

Making things smell nice and getting the relative humidity adjusted up are two things that people frequently try to do. This does one of them very well. Ready for the facts?

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The Praise (Good Things)
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+ Excellent size for atomizing essential oils without waste
+ Small enough to be out of the way and decorative rather than in your face
+ Long power cable makes it much easier to place where you want it

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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- Loud beeps when cycling through the lighting functions can be annoying

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* Limited humidifying capability
* Unclear translations in the manual
* 100 ml capacity but the included measure is 150 ml

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The Details...

I was asked to review this and so the first thing I will do is explain that I will give both good and bad details regardless of the review origin. Any review I write exists to inform YOU, the shopper, of things that will help you make a critical decision of whether to purchase the product or not. Star ratings are based on deductions for highly-undesirable issues, as "5-Stars" has become the standard on Amazon for "Does the job it should right and does it well" as opposed to "Over the top excellence".

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Physical device

Light plastic but relatively sturdy, as long as you pay attention to the "Empty This Side" and "Maximum Capacity" markers, you should be fine. Two buttons on the front allow control of the light and power functions separately, so this can be used as a night light or mood light even when the power is off. Rubberized feet keep it steady on a surface and a cord clip on the bottom helps keep the power cord securely attached. The power supply is 24v, so don't lose it. It would not be easy to replace.

Cleaning is mandatory on a regular basis. The oils and water deposits both can build up, so follow the cleaning directions. And no matter how much you may be tempted to scrape hard water deposits off the little silver plate: Don't. Q-Tip only! That thing is sensitive and should not be damaged. Cleaning it just after use will make your life easier

My only real gripe about the product itself is the loud BEEP it makes when any button is activated. This could have been much softer to avoid being nearly as grating. Trying to set it up three rooms away when my wife was asleep resulted in complaints about the beeping beeping. *chuckles*

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E-scent-ial scents

You can groan at the bad pun, but essential oils are one of the most efficient ways to disperse scent into the air. Concentrated essences in an otherwise-inert format, it doesn't take a lot to be effective. Some people will just place them on a light bulb (*cringe*) or on a surface. The light bulb.. well... it'll work, but can be a fire hazard, and is a huge burst of scent. Just drops in places and light bulbs both give little to no control over the amount of scent produced or ability to stop the scent.

Enter the Ultrasonic Humidifier. Nifty way of making this work here. A piezoelectric plate at the bottom of a reservoir of water vibrates against the water at ultrasonic frequencies. Along with small bits of splashing from the excited water, tiny droplets of water at the surface are flung into the air in a very fine mist. Air flow picks up the atomized water and carries it out into the room as a whole. This means no heating element and doesn't breed bacteria nearly as quickly as a steam system. And the nice thing about this is that it will also atomize tiny droplets of the essential oil that are floating atop the water in the same way.

Since the oil is well-contained in the unit, when the unit is off, the scent is greatly reduced, giving much better control over the smell factor.

First important thing: You must use -ESSENTIAL OILS-, not fragrance oils. Simple reason: Essential oils float on water. Most fragrance oils sink in water. If you want any scent at all, it must be at the top to be atomized by the ultrasonic waves.

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Raising the humidity? Not really...

Raising the relative humidity is important during the winter. Colder air doesn't hold as much water and so when it's heated inside your house, the relative humidity content is very low. Dry air stresses your health and can cause numerous problems. Indoor humidity should normally target about 30-40% relative humidity (less in freezing conditions outside).

Here's the issue though: Take the average house or indoor space. Average room temperature. Perhaps the humidity is 20% and you want to raise it to 30%. It will take about 7 ml of water per five square feet of floor space on average, or 140 ml per 100 square feet. Besides that meaning that it would take more than one full run of the device as a humidifier to just handle a single small room, vapor pressure means that in reality you'll always be losing humidity to the drier air outside, so it takes even more. A 1000 square foot apartment would need to run the humidifier through a full tank of water 14 times to get enough water into the air, and with the amount of time it takes, most of that moisture has already escaped to the lower moisture pressure outside by the end of it.

End result: This device does not in any manner have the capacity or flow necessary to humidify anything more than about 50 square feet of space. Which brings us back to making it smell good. THAT it does well. Thankfully this product page currently includes a different product that is a full 1.6 liter humidifier at a decent price, so getting both might be a boon to some folks.

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Ooooooo... Colors...

The manual is not wholly clear, but the first press of the button will cause it to slowly cycle through all the possible colors and the second will freeze it at the color it currently is. This allows you to achieve colors other than the basic ones on the other button presses. Further button presses will manually cycle through bright and dim versions of other available colors.

Bonus Tip!
Want to use it as a night light near where you are sleeping? Avoid any color that has any blue light in it. While blue may be impressive and interesting, the light will not help you int eh sleeping category, even with your eyes closed. Green will provide high perceptible light without keeping you awake and red will have the least impact on your night vision. Yellow combines both to give the brightest overall result that won't send you tossing and turning all night.

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Not too wet, but smells so good
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While it doesn't do much of anything at all as a humidifier, it works wonders with essential oils. Since essential oils are generally safe for pets and people (small children create some caveats when menthol-containing oils are involved), it's an excellent way to add some lovely fragrance to your life and still have great control over how much of it you get. Cleanup is a breeze and once you get the basics down, it's a very good product with some appealing bonuses like being a night light.

As always, let me know if the review was helpful and if it was not helpful, I'd really like to know why. I'll answer any questions I can and keep things up to date when possible.


Health-Grade Wrap Around Hinged Knee Brace, 4XL
Health-Grade Wrap Around Hinged Knee Brace, 4XL
Offered by Nationwide Surgical
Price: $31.99
2 used & new from $31.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does its job with some things to consider, June 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Medical items are notoriously fickle, but when you need them, you need them...

DISCLAIMER:
I am NOT a doctor, just an educated individual. In all cases, consult your doctor if you are experiencing extreme pain or if you suspect a substantial injury.

YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT A KNOWLEDGEABLE MEDICAL REPRESENTATIVE PRIOR TO THE PURCHASE OF MEDICAL EQUIPMENT SUCH AS THIS. Improper use can result in injury or greater injury, or covering up a medical condition that needs to be addressed.

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The Praise (Good Things)
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+ Provides much needed support for injured or weak knees
+ Excellent range of sizes
+ Option to use as a compression system only by taking the bars out

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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- Came with one support bar inserted backwards (Your experience may vary)
- Some critical parts are non-neoprine elastic which will wear and degrade over time
- No directions

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* Every body is shaped differently and functions differently - You'll need to find what works for you

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The Details...

Long before I met my wife, when she was merely 12 years old, she had fun helping to train horses for Hollywood. One horse falling on her and many years later, and it's time to get a brace for her permanently-damaged knee. Doctors have told her there is nothing that can be done surgically without causing more damage overall, so just maintain and brace and work as best as possible. Being overweight, finding a workable brace is a challenge.

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But how does it work?

A knee brace wants to operate based on a few factors. Compression of relevant anatomy helps keep ligaments and parts of the knee in place while the hinged bars are there to keep the knee stable and distribute stress forces slightly differently.

This brace has removable hinges, both allowing it to be washed as well as allowing it to be worn as a compression device without bracing. However it's important to note that the hinges will also help hold the brace itself up in larger sizes.

Unfortunately, the brace arrived with one hinge inserted backwards and it does take some observation skills and a bit of work to see which way the hinge should go. There are no directions sadly.

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How big is that?

Follow the size chart. Follow the directions properly, otherwise you will end up like many other customers have with something that is too large or too small. Find the proper height above your kneecap and measure AROUND with a flexible object pulled tight, then measure the length that went around.

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Behold the power of gravity!

Larger people have gravity to contend with. It pulls down your body and puts extra strain on the knees. It also wants to pull the knee brace off your knee and put it down around your ankle. Unfortunately, my wife discovered that the brace is relatively difficult to put on by herself due to her size and lack of flexibility, so it's an effort on both of our parts to get it right.

Proper position and tightness is the key. Too tight or strapped in the wrong place and it cuts off circulation. Too loose and it falls down. One important thing to remember is that the bottom strap should be braced ABOVE the main bulk of the calf so that it is not possible for that to go down without being expanded or too loose. Then it works with the brace bars to hold up the rest.

At 4XL, my wife definitely has the thighs going, but with proper alignment and application, this brace works just fine. Here are some hints though to help out...
Velcro on the main body goes past the area to attach it? You got it too big.
Velcro on the main body doesn't or barely reaches the area to attach it unless it's squeezing your leg numb? Too small.
Falls down? Not adjusted properly to the position and tightness it needs to be.

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A good thing when used properly
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All in all, it was very nice to be able to find something in a size that was possible to fit. Unfortunately, it is very possible for it to be used incorrectly. Almost every negative review I have seen stems from it being either the wrong size ordered or otherwise not put on correctly.

It loses one star for not having any direction on how to use it properly, but otherwise it's fine if it's something you need and it is used correctly.


Anker 3.5mm Premium Auxiliary Audio Cable (4ft / 1.2m) AUX Cable for Headphones, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Home / Car Stereos and More (Black)
Anker 3.5mm Premium Auxiliary Audio Cable (4ft / 1.2m) AUX Cable for Headphones, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Home / Car Stereos and More (Black)
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: $14.99
2 used & new from $4.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet sound from a quality cable, March 11, 2015
In the world of connecting audio devices together, the choice is normally between "Inexpensive" or "High Quality", but not both. Anker decided to make sure we got both. Here's the details...

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The Praise (Good Things)
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+ Gold plated connectors for better quality and signal fidelity
+ High quality construction
+ Tangle-resistant but still flexible
+ Money Back Guarantee
+ Exceptional warranty
+ Excellent length for most uses
+ Creative, multi-functional, eco-friendly packaging

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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- Escaped its beautiful presentation experience in the packaging

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* Four feet (1.2 meters) - For most uses, this is good, but may be too short or too long for others
* To achieve better durability, the collar of the audio jack is slightly larger in diameter than other small-collar options
* Not a liquid-resistant connection
* Connector protrusion of 1.25 inches

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The Details...

This review is specifically for the "Black" variant of the cable (not nylon).

Please note that I was specifically provided this product for the purpose of reviewing it. With history as a professional reviewer, my task is specifically to help -the consumer- make an educated decision. Nothing but the product itself and the Amazon.com description and information influences what I write. This also means that I put review products through much more strenuous testing since I don't have a personal investment in them, which means you get the benefit of a third party tested review.

When you're looking at a cable like this, you have a specific goal. Getting music from your phone to your car, or from your tablet to your stereo, or any number of other patching needs that call for getting a stereo signal from one stereo 3.5mm (1/8th inch) "Mini jack" to another. You can pick up the cheap cables at Best Buy for about $15 in many cases, but when you start hitting the sub-$12 range, the quality usually goes down along with the price.

Though a cheap quality audio cable will do the job just fine at first, the proof is always going to come a few months down the road, sometimes literally if it's in your car. The good news is that these cables can be stressed immediately and will show their faults in short order.

This cable sets a high bar for high quality and value.

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Like the holidays all over...

First things first, anytime you get something, there is packaging. Whether it be a cheap plastic baggy or an infuriating clamshell of plastic, the packaging is what protects your investment and gives the first impression.

One thing that can be said about Anker is that they pay attention to details. The cable comes coiled, cozily tucked in a paperboard box with a paperboard sleeve around it. A small belt to hold the coiled cable inside and a little Anker "Happy Card" are the contents besides the cable.

The "Happy Card" is worth mention because it is a folded card that takes the vertical flip concept of "Happy?" and "Not happy?" to present information when opened depending on which face you open it from. This is a very creative little effort that shows a care in attention to detail. Happy? They're happy for you to be happy! Not happy? Here's how to reach them by phone, email, or web to get it fixed.

The next bit of eloquence is that the paperboard sleeve around the box has a tear-strip to open it flat and the user manual graces the inside A well-written, happy, and whopping one-sentence user manual... but hey, it's an audio cable! Not very complicated. More importantly, they have info on their guarantee and warranty (which sit at 30 days and 18 months respectively) and how to get ahold of them.

Inside the box, they even have the lovely touch of thanking you for your purchase printed in the lid. The fact that the effort was taken on details like that gives a warm fuzzy feeling and these days, that can be difficult to come by.

And the kicker: The cable has a serial number. Yup. Not even the $50 Logitech speakers we got at my work have a serial number, but this cable does.

The only complaint I could find after extensive base testing is that the attempted presentation of the cable in its inside cardboard sleeve had failed, with the sleeve having slid off the coiled cable to sit free in the box and the cable unrestrained. That this is the only complaint says something. Not a big thing at all, and not really worth a complaint, but I can't tolerate coming across as a gushy fan when I'm trying to perform a practical service for buyers in my review information. So there you have it: It wasn't quite as pretty in the box as it could have been.

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Failed to find faults...

When I write a review, I insist wholly on honesty and accuracy above all else. The review should give information to allow an educated purchase decision. That means accurately reporting the bad side of things as well. So I put the cable through its paces...

Is it really four feet? Yup. Exactly four feet from connector to connector. I mean -EXACTLY-.
Does it stretch? Nope. No quality issues from stretching.
Does my cat like to chew on it? Not a lick. Despite her insistence on nomming every single cable I have found.
Does it break under reasonable use scenarios? Nope.
Gold-plated connector so it's not going to corrode. Quality cable that is tangle-resistant and still flexible enough to coil into a nice travel coil. Doesn't smell funny either.

At this point, since it worked and worked very well, I was pretty much out of potential problems. And trust me, I do check.

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Go for the gold...

The whole goal of an audio cable is to get the variable-frequency AC or voltage-modulated DC signal from one place to another. Metal conducts the electricity. Corrosion doesn't. Gold is a noble metal and resists corrosion in most environments that anybody could possibly use this in, thus ensuring a good connection and thus good sound. After all, getting crackling and hissing from a bad connection is just icky.

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Quality construction

Anker says that the cable is durable and high quality. I have a set of basic tests for this, one of which is the all-important test of whether it's tasty to the cat. It is not. (Your feline mileage may vary.) I've tested and destroyed dozens of cables in testing. Generally they stop being easily destroyed around the thirty-dollar mark, so you can imagine my surprise at the results of this one.

Cables face hazards. Biting cat teeth, yanks in cars, dropped phones and MP3 players, corrosion, heat... the list goes on and on. The only thing this cable appears to lack is a watertight connection between the cable itself and the connector housing, though I could be wrong on that. If I am not wrong, then a spill of a soda in the car could be the death of this cable. But then if you're spilling soft drinks in the car, you probably have bigger worries.

There is no stretch and the sleeve is stable. It survived numerous hard bends at the minimum radius that the sleeve will allow by hand. Yank and tugs at the connection between the cable and the connector housing resulted in no transient or long term issues.

It is not a Kevlar outer sleeve mind you, so cases where it may be pulled across a sharp edge are not recommended. However with numerous tests of normal activities and abuse that such a cable may experience in everyday use, it stood up fine and never skipped a beat. No shorts, no breaks, no problems.

It's also interesting that this is theoretically not a shielded cable, however in base testing it was very difficult to tell. The normal noise that I would expect the cable to pick up from RF interference was completely lacking. I haven't had the heart to kill the poor thing and see if it actually is shielded and they just don't say so.

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Form factor

Tight spaces are common and the ability to make sure something will fit is important. The "Perfect Fit" situation here is good, though it doesn't go as slim as many other cables. The difference is literally on the line of a millimeter, but warrants attention.

When plugged in to the jack, the connector housing extends precisely 1.25 inches with the cable itself at maximum bend. Obviously this means that 1.75 inches of space is required to plug it in to the .5 inch connector space inside the jack.

The cable is precisely four feet long. Not four feet from tip to tip, but four feet of cable between the connectors. And by precisely, I mean -precisely-, without even variation of a thirty-second of an inch.

The outer sleeve of the cable is approximately 4mm. I could not find my calipers for a more precise measurement.

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They stand behind you

Anker has this habit of being REALLY nice and doing the right thing. Full time phone support, money-back guarantees, and a warranty on everything they make that extends past a lot of high-class equipment warranties. While they don't do everything perfectly, every single encounter I've had in cases of issues have been handled quickly and well and I could not be more pleased.

You can't be perfect, but when they have a problem, they make it right.

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Sounds like a great thing!
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Getting the equivalent of a $25 cable for less than half the price on Amazon is just one of those gleeful things that is hard to pass up. If you're in the market for this kind of cable and the specifications meet your needs, this is definitely the go-to product at the time of writing this review. Anker has pulled out all the stops to put quality and low price into the field together, and you reap the benefits.

As always with my reviews, I will follow up as I get more information and I always try to give a longer term view of things. Look for the details as this cable takes on the world. If the review is helpful, please let me know and Amazon know, and comments are welcome and monitored.


Rudy Project RYDON FROZEN ASH IMPACT X PHOTO MLS CLEAR
Rudy Project RYDON FROZEN ASH IMPACT X PHOTO MLS CLEAR

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A collossal waste of money for easy scratches and cracks, loose screws, and an exhorbitant "guarantee" fee, August 17, 2014
For the price and the apparent reputation of the brand, this should be a tremendously good product. Unfortunately, tremendous failure is all that I've encountered. Read on to find out the lowdown...

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The Praise (Good Things)
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+ Good-looking frames in a selection of colors that can be mixed and matched
+ Interchangeable lenses in a huge selection for different activities and appearances
+ Extra lens features such as polarized, anti-reflective back coating, and many others
+ Lifetime "warranty" exchange options for lenses

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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- Temple screws loosen quickly under normal use and must be re-tightened frequently
- Despite all claims of high quality, the lenses are anything but in actual use - to the point of nearly complete uselessness
- Lenses stood up to about two weeks of light use before exhibiting problems and damage and in some cases exhibited problems while stored
- The warranting of the lenses requires a "nominal fee" for replacement - of over 25% of the cost of new lenses

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* With the broad spectrum of lenses, knowing which lenses will tint things is not always easy
* Multi-laser lenses have a distinct color tinting at the edges of the lenses

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The Details...

Rudy Project was described to me by my optician as an excellent pair of sunglasses with options to have prescription lenses. After laser surgery, I no longer need prescription sunglass lenses, so I just wanted something that was high quality with a good selection of features. The Rudy Project line looked like the best option. Several hundred dollars later, I have discovered that I could not be more wrong. Hopefully this review information will assist others in not making the same mistake I did.

The sunglasses come in a very nice box with a hard case and carrying bag for the glasses themselves that doubles as a microfiber cleaning cloth. The case has an extra flap that carries two pairs of spare lenses. Given that the Rydon line is well-lauded for the ability to swap out lenses in the frames on an as-needed basis, this is a very nice feature. There are options to purchase dozens of different lenses directly from the site, from golfing lenses to nearly-transparent protective lenses to hyper-dark sunglass lenses suitable for alpine eye protection.

The lenses test out on my side to provide very good UV-A and UV-B blocking and the shape of the frame and lenses minimizes edge light for a comfortable and adjustable fit. Some lenses, such as the Polar 3FX polarized lenses come with anti-reflective back coating to reduce the reflection of light on the back of the lenses and the coating does an excellent job of this. The lenses are impact-resistant per several national standards in various countries. Finally, the multi-laser lenses have an appealing look with a sweep of mirrored color depending on the viewing angle, though the multi-laser lenses that I have acquired do not have an anti-reflective back coating.

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Bit of a screw loose...

My use of the sunglasses includes for driving and hiking, as well as everyday use. When not worn on my face, the glasses are stored in their micro-fiber bag and that in the hard case to avoid any squashing or other damage. I found it somewhat interesting that after a few days of folding and unfolding the earpieces, the screws at the temple were quickly becoming more and more loose. Within a few weeks, I quickly discovered that it was necessary to re-tighten these screws with pretty much every three wears otherwise they would become looser and looser and eventually come out of the bottom of the hinge piece.

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Lens (lack of) quality...

Rudy project has a -HUGE- range of lens options for the Rydon sunglass line. Combined with the "Replacement Lens Guarantee" I read about, I had no qualms (at the time) over purchasing two pairs of frames and lenses. That was my first mistake.

The red-mirrored lenses started exhibiting prolific micro-cracks within a week despite being stored only in climate-controlled home rooms and in my pocket while out. With the micro-cracks, when direct sunlight hits the lens at any angle, it reflects off the micro-cracks and creates a splay of reflected light from inside the lens, obstructing vision quite effectively. Not only is this annoying, but it endangered my life at one point when the reflections off the cracks in the lenses obstructed my vision when driving.

The other original set was a pair of Polar 3FX polarized lenses with a titanium mirror coating (plain non-colored mirroring). My first discovery with these was that an examination of the polarization revealed it to be inconsistent across the lens. Quick comparison of cross-polarization with a standard test showed that the lens had several "hot spots" where the polarization was not complete. It was not misaligned, it was literally missing in those spots.

But that was not the only issue. Within a few weeks' time frame, growing spots of darkness in the mirror coating began to develop. Looking at the front of the glasses, these were non-mirrored dark spots. Looking through the glasses, these resulted in bright spots in the lens where the extra light reduction of the mirroring was not occurring. All of the light that was normally reflected by the mirror surface was going through the lens instead, creating a very inconsistent view of the world besides the glasses looking quite ugly while being worn now with big dark spots on the otherwise mirrored lenses.

Washing with mild detergent was ineffective at correcting the issue with the Polar 3FX lenses and so I lived with it for a while while ordering a new set of lenses directly from Rudy Project's site. After all, better to have something than nothing at all while getting replacements, since replacing them requires shipping the prior lenses back.

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Take two... or three, four, and five

The cost of lenses on the Rudy Project site directly ranges from about $55 to $90 for non-prescription, non-reader lenses. They have a very large selection of options for look, light transmission, and intended use. Thinking that maybe there had been some kind of issue with the Amazon purchase of these sunglasses, I took the option to purchase three new pairs of lenses from Rudy Project directly. Third, fourth, and fifth time should be fine, right? Take very special care of them and it would be okay?

After a short time, a set of mirrored blue, mirrored green, and a new pair of Polar 3FX polarized lenses arrived. The Polarized lenses and the blue lenses were placed immediately into the frames and the green lenses were inspected and stored in the lens holders provided by the case sent by Rudy Project. The microfiber glasses bags were well-washed and rinsed prior to this and the lens holders were never used before. I know that chemicals are rarely good for anything, so ensuring a pristine start was important to me.

The first thing I discovered was that the mirrored green lenses imparted a color tint. Nothing on the original sale process indicated this. It was annoying, but livable, however more bad that nothing told me they would do this.

Then after about a week of wearing the mirrored blue lenses outdoors, a stumble on a root in the mountains sent them flying off my face into grass. No problem. Walk over, pick them up. I've had many, many pair of sunglasses fall onto everything from grass to gravel to asphalt before and even had those annoying little dings in some of the cheap ones from rocky falls of substantial height.

Odd. Why did I have a big blue in my right line of vision?

A quick inspection of the lenses discovered a millimeter-long gouge in the mirrored surface of the right lens as well as numerous other tiny scratches that caused the mirrored coating to flake off at the edges of the scratches along both lenses. This from a five foot drop into -GRASS-. Not rocks. Not cement or asphalt. No sticks, nothing sharp or hard. Just GRASS. One week and these lenses were destroyed.

At home I promptly set them aside and went the rest of the day with the polarized lenses, intending to see about the lens guarantee soon. The end of the day brought the next unpleasant surprise. While I had been wearing them, the same problem with the mirrored surface developed with this pair of lenses. Given that they were on my face, I am at a loss to explain how this occurred. They were fine when they went on, and by the end of a few hours outside in the sun, they had dark spots on the front with no mirroring. So another pair of lenses to probably replace. I'd have to deal with the tinted color of the green lenses. Which I took out of the case specifically made for them to find a bubble under the mirroring on one lens that caused a separation of the mirroring there and a very distinct defective section as a result.

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But they guarantee them! Or do they?

Rudy Project has two guarantees. One is a 90-day money back guarantee. However the lenses must be in perfect condition to take this up and so that would not be honored on damaged lenses.

The second guarantee is a bit more sinister. They will replace even damaged lenses if you ship them back with an accurate address and a check for a "small handling fee". Literally, to quote from their current web site: "Whatever the reason, you can replace your scratched or damaged lenses direct from Rudy Project for a small handling fee."

It was already annoying that FIVE pairs of lenses managed to fail to last more than a month each, so even something like a $4.99 handling fee on top of the cost of shipping the lenses back was annoying to consider. Then I went to their web site and choked on something as I read:

"To have your lenses replaced under our replacement lens guarantee, please send your damaged lenses and a check for $24.95..."

Right. So the handling is AT LEAST 28% THE COST OF NEW LENSES, and that's only on the very costly ones like Polar 3FX. Apparently "Open package. Look at old lenses to see that they are really real. Process an order for the new ones to the correct address." is done by celebrities or something, since that 15-minute process apparently is done by somebody paid about $100 an hour.

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Failure, failure, failure, and more failure, on top of expense and failure.

In all the time I have purchased things, performed reviews, done evaluations, and given public information to assist in purchase decisions, I have NEVER seen a product that has earned a one-star review. Then Rudy Project came along. Unfortunately, I can't really say that the product alone earns the review. In this case, I have to apply this review to the whole company, since a good chunk of the problem is company-wide.

At $25 per lens replacement with five pairs of lenses surviving two weeks on average, and some dying within one day of use, the average cost of these sunglasses is well over $650 per year on getting replacement "guaranteed" lenses. What is their guarantee? Apparently they guarantee that if you send them more money, they will send you more defective and inferior product so that you can send them more money in a few weeks.

The $25 lens replacement is the only option at all as well. There is no warranty that I found for defective on arrival or anything similar. This implies clearly that the company does not stand behind their product as a quality, lasting item and may only be out there to wrack in as much money as they can from unsuspecting cads.

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In the end, nothing good to say

A lot of pretty lenses, a lot of fancy material in the frames, but with the frames falling apart and the lenses not lasting more than two weeks without dumping money into replacing them, all that shine is useless. As a whole, I can only emphatically recommend avoiding Rudy Project products as a whole with hopes that they will eventually not be a useless money sink with eggshell-like reliability.

As always, this review is my own experiences and knowledgeable information. Two separate sets of Rudy Project products, one from Amazon, one from Rudy Project directly, and the same exact issues with both tends to indicate a wide-sweeping problem. This is also the first review on these products on Amazon, so that is something to consider. The glasses I bought on Amazon were the same Rydon models, but the product page for my specific purchase is now dead. Constantly placing the same products under new ASINs is a strong indication of potential troubles that are trying to be hidden, so we shall see how this comes back.


Linksys 8-Port Metallic Gigabit Switch (SE3008)
Linksys 8-Port Metallic Gigabit Switch (SE3008)
Price: $39.95
22 used & new from $39.75

195 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it should and does it well - 8-Port, June 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
VERY IMPORTANT: This review is specifically about the 8-Port switch. Many features and considerations regarding this switch DO NOT APPLY to other options, especially the 16 and 24-Port versions.

Updated May 28th 2015 due to specification changes.

It's an unmanaged switch. It gets data from place to place with Plug and Forget simplicity. Why buy this over the less-expensive SE2800? There are several reasons you may want to. Read on...

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The Praise (Good Things)
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+ All metal construction for a sturdy switch
+ Runs cool
+ Gigabit capability
+ No Head-of-Line blocking, contention handling, and flow control
+ Uplink Autodetection (MDI/MDIX)
+ QoS handling

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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- Inconsistent product package content inclusion

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* Unmanaged switch
* Port lights on the front, cabling on the back
* External power converter

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The Details...

I said it at the top and I will say it here again: This review applies ONLY to the 8-Port version. The 16-Port and 24-Port versions have substantially different features and specifications and this review cannot accurately inform you on them. With that being said...

It was time to move from an integrated wireless router to a separate Wireless Access Point, Router, and Switch. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I snagged an SE2800. Then I returned that, did some better research, and I grabbed this. One month later it's been put through the basic paces and I can give some information and things for people to consider.

The one and only disappointment I've had with this switch is that I ended up acquiring three of them (for various reasons) and one package did not contain the rubber feet. Sealed package. No feet. Sad me. Otherwise, I am quite very happy with this switch.

Automatic MDI/MDIX detection is pretty standard these days and simply means that you can plug in an uplink without having to worry about whether it needs a crossover cable.

Quality of Service (QoS) tagging is a very good thing to have if you do anything with in-home video or audio streaming. It helps ensure that time-sensitive data gets to where it's going without waiting for things like that huge file you're copying to the other computer. After all, the wait is only a few fractions of a second, but that's enough to make your video all blocky and icky.

The 8-Port version has an external power supply and the ones I received are skinny to the left. This is a great way to keep the transformer away from the plug beneath or above the one used, but iff you have side by side plugs on a power strip, this will end up blocking the leftward plug.

It's also nice to note that the 8-Port switch has a very clean face. It is made to be a desktop switch, with wiring and cables in the back and a clean front to give basic connection information. This does create a less-ideal situation if the switch is wall-mounted, as the wall mount holes will only accommodate mounting with the cables up or down. As a person with cats, I have to have the switch well off the ground, and this makes viewing the status lights impossible without standing very close to the switch to see the top surface, or mounting it with the cables up which I personally do not prefer to do. I would have loved to have had sideways mounting options. Ahh well.

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Why not go cheaper?

Now I am a frugal person. I originally got the Linksys SE2800 a a local store but then that was returned in favor of this. But why? Why would I spend nearly an extra 25% (at the time of writing) on this switch? Simple: My network is important to me. My network is also important to my wife. My wife is important to me too. That and the fact that if the network has problems, I get to sleep in the car.

This switch does not bump up the price just because of the metal case versus the plastic mushroom-case on the SE2800. There is more to it.

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FEATURES! But what do they mean?

Both switches will deal with Quality of Service (QoS) tagging. That is important if you do anything like streaming video, voice calls, and other time-sensitive things on your network. But this switch has some extra things that make it that head above the other.

--- "Non head-of-line blocking architecture"
This one is nice. Now, mind you, this will only affect you if you have more than two things connected to the switch, so if you are just using it to pipe data between two computers, you can ignore this feature. But if you are using a lot of ports, or especially if you have a file server or other network device that has a lot of traffic going to it, this feature will give you an improvement in network performance.

When two or more pieces of data arrive at the same time that need to go to the same place, the switch can only send one at a time. Head-of-line blocking (HOL Blocking) means that while it makes the second (and third and fourth) arrival locations wait, it also makes the pieces of data BEHIND those initial pieces wait too. By avoiding head-of-line blocking, the switch is able to move other data in front of the pieces that have to wait and send them on their way without impacting network speed. This is like the waiting spot at McDonald's drive through. Somebody ordered $50 worth of stuff, so they can wait there for it to be ready while other people who just wanted to get a drink are able to be handled without having to wait.

--- "Full-duplex IEEE 802.3x flow control" (and the rest)
Notably, it's the "And the rest" part that is important here. The SE2800 does support 802.3x, however there was no indication that it would deal properly with half-duplex backpressure and especially broadcast rate control. The SE2800 is not an incapable switch. This is just a more-capable switch. In all honesty, in most home-use cases, you'll never encounter a need for this, however if you know you need it, or ever do encounter a case where it is helpful, it will save you a tremendous amount of sadness. It's a fancy way of saying that the switch helps take more intelligent control of the traffic in the event of something unexpected or mixed old and new technology.

Overall, in testing, the core of the switch runs cooler and this switch has more switching capacity than the SE2800.

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Built metal tough

I mentioned I have cats. Nightmare creatures from beyond the void whom I love dearly, but their destructive prowess cannot be topped by anything short of a bulldozer driven by a maniac elephant. Even their fur is a bane to computers. Remember that SE2800 I returned? Plastic. Yeah... It was not pretty.

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Summary - Worthwhile for a stable, reliable network
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I love my wife and she loves me, but that won't stop her from getting grumpy if our network has problems. I don't like a grumpy wife, so this switch has been an excellent solution. The additional features it carries over the SE2800 also make it a very worthwhile investment despite its higher cost. The best part is that the cats have not yet succeeded at even dinging it.

Take a look at the info I give you and you should be able to tell if this is the best purchase for you. If there's not enough information, let me know what questions you have and I'll try to find out and let you know.

As always, please let Amazon and I know if my review is helpful to you. If it's not, let me know why in a comment so I can give better information in the future. I monitor my comments and reply to questions, and I do updates on reviews when I am able.
Comment Comments (20) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 3, 2016 2:17 PM PDT


HID Corporation 1346 ProxKey III Key Fob Proximity Access Card Keyfob, 1-1/4" Length x 1-1/2" Height x 15/64" Thick (Pack of 1)
HID Corporation 1346 ProxKey III Key Fob Proximity Access Card Keyfob, 1-1/4" Length x 1-1/2" Height x 15/64" Thick (Pack of 1)
Price: $8.27
9 used & new from $1.39

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just one ProxKey III fob, February 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This will be one of my shorter reviews, as there is not a lot to say about a proximity key fob.

Obviously, you get precisely one of these, so if you are in need of just one, this is good. Many other situations put you in possession of ten or fifty or one hundred.

Some of the information given is somewhat misleading. Yes, you can use a ProxProgrammer to program it, but very few will have that, and those that do are more likely to purchase these fobs in quantities of 1000 or more. So in this case you will receive a key fob pre-programmed with a number almost invariably between 00000 and 65535, most likely in the 5000-15000 range (but not necessarily).

The fob works with any HIDProx readers. This is a specific format, so don't just take frequency as anything. If the reader handles HIDProx, great. If not? Not great.

Range-wise, the fob has less antenna than a card, so the range is about half that of a card or less. However the fob has a very sturdy ring opening that makes it very suitable for key rings and such. In cases where people are prone to lose cards, this can be an excellent alternative if the coded data does not need to also have something like an ID picture attached.

This is NOT considered a secure token. The reader will report just a number that can easily be special-ordered on another fob. But somebody would have to read your fob to get that, then go through the effort to duplicate it. Generally that means having your fob, in which case it doesn't matter, they don't need to duplicate it.

Otherwise, I expect that for the most part, people will know they need something like this and come here because of the singular quantity, so hopefully the information above will provide some help. I give this five stars, but I will state it is a BASELINE five stars. A normal product for a very specific purpose and use and without any faults worthy of reducing the rating.

Please let Amazon and me know if this review is helpful to you and as always, I will answer any questions and comments that I can.


Icemoon Colour Changing LED Shower Head,
Icemoon Colour Changing LED Shower Head,

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and inexpensive with temperature feedback, December 30, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Yooou light up my life..."

Okay, bad singing aside, this shower head is fun if you A: Know what you're getting (and are ready for it) and B: Remember that it costs less than two fast food meals. Read on!

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The Praise (Good Stuff)
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+ Bright LEDs so no question about the color or whether it's lit.
+ No batteries needed. It does use a simple turbine system.
+ Bright enough to shower by.
+ A good indicator of when the water is a good temperature.

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The Raze (Bad Stuff)
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- The design of the shower head keeps air trapped inside when staring up so noise and possible temporary turbine failure result.

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The Haze (Stuff to Consider)
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* The temperature tracking is not super-precise and water temperature fluctuations are normal.
* Hard water will gum up the turbine over time.
* Does NOT have a low-flow rate limiter.
* Hand-held shower head only, so extra equipment is required to install on many showers.

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The Details...
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This is absolutely a novelty item. It's a very FUN novelty item, and the temperature-changed color has a possible use, so it's worth the money I paid for it. But it does have things to take into account so you don't get stuck with Gotchyas like some other reviewers have encountered.

Plumbing 101
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The first thing to note is that this is a standard HAND-HELD shower head. This means it has a male connection to go into the female end of a hand-held hose or other similar connection. If you currently just have a shower head on the end of a pipe coming out of the wall, chances are this is not the connection you need. The pipe coming out of the wall will generally have a male connection for the shower heads female connection to attach to. A hose for showers has two female ends, one for the end of the shower pipe in the wall, one for the end of the hand-held attachment like this is. And of course a clip is a good idea too.

If you already have a hose with a hand-held shower head, then you're ready to just swap things out. If not, an Arm Mount and hose should definitely be on the list of things to acquire if you don't have them already. The two items linked here are reputable in reviews.

One should also note that there is no flow limiter. This is not a 1.5 Gallon per Minute low-flow shower head. It will take as much water as you throw at it. This means the pressure of the water out the spouts is not made to be super-high to make it feel like a lot of water. It flows with less force, but a lot of water over time, and the pressure in the rest of the system leading up to it will affect the flow rate and pressure.

Electromechanical! What a big word...
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The shower head is powered by a water turbine. The flow of the water itself spins the turbine in the shower head and provides electricity internally to the system. So no power cords, no batteries to run out. However this means there is a spinning part to potentially get gummed up. After a month, the mineral content of the water here has made it so the turbine won't spin freely when there is air in the shower head.

That's another thing to note. You'd never notice it in most shower heads, but this is meant to be clear. Air in the main section will reduce the clarity of the light as well as impair the function of the turbine. This impaired turbine function means that after a while, it won't 'just work'. Turning it enough for the air to escape is necessary. A trivial and mildly annoying operation - but not too bad really.

Lights! Camera! Action! ... Skip the camera.
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The LED lighting is bright and the color changes based on the temperature of the water. Green indicates definitely too cold. Blue is the comfortable shower zone for most folks. Red is the "Hot Shower" zone. In the event the water is turned to a temperature that will scald and burn, the lights blink red and green. Notably, when going between normal temperatures, the color might blink between the two. Green/Blue and Blue/Red. This is pretty normal because of the way water and thermistors work. It's also nice for hot-shower lovers, since when you start to run out of hot water, it will start heading back to blue and let you know.

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In the end...
==============
My wife loves this. The cats love it (we have a Savannah and Bengal. Insane felines who love the water). For the $10 I paid for it, it's worth it. If it were much more expensive, maybe not so much.

As always, I will update the review as information becomes available. Please let me and Amazon know if the review was helpful to you. If not, or if you have questions or comments, leave a comment and I'll see it and respond in most cases.


Marineland PC0250SSB H.O.T. Filter, Magnum 250 PRO
Marineland PC0250SSB H.O.T. Filter, Magnum 250 PRO

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great filter plagued by abysmal quality control and out of the box failures, December 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
When it works, it's great, but there is a lot of evidence that getting a working unit is more of a gamble than Vegas. Read for details and future updates when I have more information from support and services at Marineland.

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The Praise (Good Stuff)
===================
+ Canister filtering gives more control over media and much less (claimed zero) filter bypass
+ The filter will move a good bit of water at 250 GPH (about 950 Liters per hour)
+ Spring clamping helps keep the sealing parts secure
+ Easy release but tight hold on pipe connections
+ On-pump power switch allows quick on/off without going for the plug
+ The Bio Filter version has a Bio-Wheel operation concept that does indeed work

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The Raze (Bad Stuff)
=================
- Failed out of the box in not just one but a plethora of distinct ways
- Factory-assembled connector assembly for Bio Wheel biological filter assembly too short
- Outlet pipe assembly too short for normal tank fills
- Construction and design of media container lends to spills and feels cheap
- Inspection of other review details indicates that failures in both of the manners I encountered are disturbingly common

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The Haze (Stuff to Consider)
=======================
* Different filters are meant to do different things - For example, the micron filter removes particulates, not chemicals
* Allowing the bio-wheel to stay dry (no pumping occurring) for too long will result in a quick death of your microbes on it

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The Details...
===========
Filtering is a critical portion of every aquarium. Mechanical filtering provided by basic filtering media removes large debris from the water and provides a surface for biological filtering bacteria to live. Chemical filtering, generally using activated carbon, removes various dangerous chemicals from the water. Biological filtering provides the surfaces upon which Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter (as well as other nitrogen-cycle bacteria) can live and thrive and the water flow provides a constant circulation for the bacteria to work on the ammonia and nitrites in the tank. With proper filtering, fish can thrive with a 10-25% water change weekly to remove Nitrates. Without proper filtering, fish can grow stressed, ill, and die without water changes along the lines of 80-90% daily.

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Why a canister filter?
--------------------------
There are two common kinds of external pumps and filters for aquariums. Canister filters and edge-hanging "waterfall" filters. This is the former kind. Amongst many other factors, any debris that is sucked through the intake of this kind of filter reaches the filter first, whereas waterfall filters pull the debris through the impeller first and the filter second, potentially putting the impeller at risk. And should an unexpected fry (baby fish) be sucked through the grate in a waterfall filter, chances are pretty good it'll come out into the filter reservoir in many little pieces. Poor thing.

A good canister filter provides for minimal or zero bypass. Bypass is water that comes into the filter but manages to sneak around the mechanical and chemical filters, whether due to leaks inside at the edges or bottom or top, or just due to "Not much carbon" in the thing. With zero bypass, all water definitely goes through the filter media and the high concentration of active chemical filter media means a huge treatment quantity.

It's also worth noting that the selection of filter media for a waterfall filter is often limited, depending on the brand. The chemical filtering media is frequently in low quantity in the filter cartridge. By comparison, a canister filter's media container can carry specialty media such as zeolites or resins and carry a very large concentration of media.

Everybody should keep in mind that the filter medias do different things. Got off-color water? The Micron filter will not help with that. Unless it's pieces of stuff, it'll go right through in the water. But put in the carbon filter and Foomp! Watch the color vanish overnight like magic.

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Go with the flow
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The basic rule of filtering in aquariums is that the pump and filter should be able to process five times the volume of the aquarium every hour. As a 250 GPH (Gallons Per Hour) filter, this system will work fine for aquariums up to 50 gallons. While there is technically no such thing as "too much water flow", I would not recommend the use of this filter on a 10 Gallon tank unless you are ready to have space issues outside the tank. 20, 29, etc, up to 50, and you're fine.

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Ammonia could make you moan...
------------------------------------------
Biological filters are critical. In an aquarium setup, fish breathing and waste generates ammonia in the water. Too much of this (even just two parts per million) can be lethal to the fish. This and Nitrates should stay at zero or as close thereto as possible. This is done by beneficial bacteria that eat the ammonia and convert it into nitrites. Then more bacteria that eat the nitrites and convert them into nitrates (note the 'a' instead of 'i'). The nitrates can still make fish unhappy, but they are not nearly as bad and come out with normal water changes.

A good chunk of the bacteria can be found in the substrate (gravel, sand, etc), but most of it grows on the mechanical filter media and inside the filtering system. But wait! We take that out and throw it away, replacing it with a clean one. Huh. Ammonia spike! Drat. The version of this I am reviewing comes with a Bio Wheel attachment: a rotating filter media specifically made to house the bacteria colonies that keep your fish healthy and happy. This filter media is not replaced, so when you change out your filters, you don't lose your biological filter colonies. Be wary though: Leaving the pump off for too long (several hours plus) will dry out the media and then you will find the tears of sad fish flooding through the water.

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Let's get together
----------------------
Canister filters move a lot of water through an enclosed space. Water pressure gets to be substantial in many parts, so well-fitting parts and secure connections is critical. This canister filter boasts a spring-secured top cover and clips on the inlet and outlet that are easy to engage and remove when needed, but stay secure when maintained properly and in use.

It's also nice to have a power switch on the back that allows the pump to be turned off, for example in smaller tanks to keep the food from flowing away with the water flow, and since the entire assembly is light enough to hang from the tank edge, everything is easy to set up and go.

Sadly, the lid of the media container just kind of slides on insecurely. Holding it tight while handling the full container is critical, but then the container feels like it will be crushed. Somewhat annoying to say the least.

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Feel the Dark Side
------------------------
An edge mount canister filter, not too expensive, easy to work with... sounds too good to be true! Well... Yep. I looked through a huge number of reviews here on Amazon and elsewhere. The detailed, valid complaints have a very strong legitimacy.

The first issue of note is that the outlet tube drops the top edge of the water spreader a very short distance below the absolute top of the tank. Just an extra inch on the downward tube would have saved people from having to over-fill the tank by half an inch (or more) lest they want to deal with constant surface splashing.

Next on the gripe list is the connector assembly between the main outlet and the Bio Wheel Pro System attachment. Literally just about half an inch too short as created in the factory, causing undue stress on both connectors.

But then we get to the solid failure portions...
Upon turning it on for the first time, it immediately began spewing a spray of water from the far end of the Bio Wheel system. Examination of the spray bar found a failed seal at the enclosed end. Plastic parts that were not created or constructed properly resulting in a lack of water tightness. This is not a consumer-correctable issue and requires replacement of the part. And inspection of the other reviews shows that I am not the first to encounter this issue.

But the more disturbing one will shock and astound you.
"It worked for a while then started just blowing bubbles"
"After a few minutes it became very loud and didn't pump water at all"
"It blasted water at first, but it didn't suck any up the inlet and so it just stopped working"
Those are common items from other negative reviews. Guess I am lucky, since I encountered precisely the same thing. Very thorough examination of the system brought about the reality of the failure.

The way it works is simple:
Water is sucked up the inlet and comes in on the "outside" of the filter canister, just under the majority of the lid. It is sucked in through the filter media and down the outside of the solid tube that runs up the center of the system. The impeller then pushes it up the inside of the solid tube and the lid directs it to the output tube.

The lid must seal tightly. For this matter, it has a D ring (like an O ring, but the lid id D shaped). Basically a round-noodle type seal made of soft rubber that gets squeezed between the lid and the canister to form a tight seal. This seal is absolutely critical, since the outside section of the canister has a vacuum inside as water is pumped. If this seal fails, it will begin to draw air into the canister and eventually no longer filter or pump water.

When mine did precisely that, I started with the basics. Is the D Ring smooth and in good shape? No... No it wasn't. Manufacturing defects on the D Ring left gloops and glops along parts of it. That would impact the seal. Thankfully this was easily corrected as they were introduced after the main ring was created and were easily scraped off leaving the ring intact. But no good. It still failed dramatically, the water flow ceasing within seconds as air was sucked in through the seal.

Then I looked at the lid lip, where the D ring fits. On a perfect day, the top edge of the canister and the inside edge of the lid will have a flat, smooth surface. The smoother and more mirror-like, the better. Tiny scratches can be an issue, but wetting the seal with aquarium water as indicated will allow water tension to remedy this. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky as to have tiny scratches.

Inside the rim area, directly beneath the inlet piping, the plastic had a quarter inch wide and just-as-deep stress dimple. Basically, a hole. Far too big for the D ring to fill. So: Fail. No seal. Air gets sucked in. Pump doesn't work.

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In the end...
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Were it not for the legitimate-looking reviews from folks who have had good luck, the failure of this unit and the reviews that indicate many other similar failures would earn this one star straight out. Some claimed positive results for other people when contacting support as well as the normal impression of quality from the brand has earned it two.

As it stands right now, the long and sordid history of failed product and identical failures leads me to not recommend the purchase of this item unless you are willing to take a gamble on what should be great but has a great chance of being a lemon.

In the near future, I will be in contact with their support team. The handling of this catastrophic QA failure and the end result of the set up and Getting Things Working experience will determine the rating update.

As always, I will update this review as information becomes available, including long term information, and I will always happily answer questions that I am able to.

Please be sure to let me and Amazon know whether this review was helpful to you. If you do not find it helpful, please leave a comment so I may improve the information to allow people to make an educated decision regarding the purchase.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 8, 2014 9:58 PM PST


Anker Astro E3 Ultra Compact 10000mAh Portable Charger (2nd Gerneration, Classic External Battery Power Bank) Slim with PowerIQ Technology Black
Anker Astro E3 Ultra Compact 10000mAh Portable Charger (2nd Gerneration, Classic External Battery Power Bank) Slim with PowerIQ Technology Black
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: $59.99

1,866 of 1,946 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compact battery for the extra power you need, May 27, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Pull out your big-pockets and don't expect something light, but this package provides plenty of power

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The Praise (Good Things)
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* Small form factor for the amount of battery content
* Charge status and level indicator LEDs
* Automatic power off
* PowerIQ(tm) feature to automatically route power and line connectivity based on the device plugged in
* Excellent value for cost

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The Raze (Bad Things)
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* Construction of the included cable is cheap

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The Haze (Things to Consider)
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* About the size of a 5" smart phone but thicker
* Substantially heavier than an average smart phone
* Charges more slowly than the power it supplies
* Will not charge low-power-draw devices due to Auto-Off function
* Charging this device draws more power than some chargers can provide
* Does not come with an AC power adapter to charge itself so charging off USB is a very long process

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The Details...

REVIEWER'S NOTE:
AnkerDirect has changed the product on this ASIN to a "2nd Gen" version. Many of the older reviews are reviews of the original first generation. This review has been updated to the second generation product currently provided here.

Edit February 25 2015:
Due to the increasing average size of smart phones, some terminology has been changed to better reflect the changing reality around the world.

This battery comes in a comfortable packaging with good instructions and a few interesting items. A double-sided mini-booklet advises how to get in touch with support in case of issues and solicits reviews in case of happiness. A short Micro USB cable is included as well.

Sadly, I have to touch on the raze item right here:
The construction of the USB cable is continuing the Anker standard of low quality. The outside sheath that covers the Micro USB connector should be the proper place to grab to remove the connector from a device, however just like in the Anker car power adapter, this sheath is not connected securely and slides down the cable instead. This exposes the connector to additional stress as the protective cover is gone and getting the connector out without sliding that protective cover down requires pulling on the cable itself, which is not good for it.

This is really secondary and overall not worth a star off, however Anker really should address this issue since it has now come up in two separate products that I have purchased from them.

What I would honestly love to see is some way to have things plugged into this without the cable sticking out so far. Phone and Battery, back to back with a low-profile connection to each would be truly-portable charging.

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Battery for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night snack...

Nobody can deny that the digital world of today is a power-hungry place. Charging stations have cropped up all over and it's not uncommon to see folks' phones plugged into the local wall sockets at coffee shops or bars or hotels. Phones and tablets are faster, brighter, and more powerful, but they eat batteries like mad. Even with an extended life battery clipped to the back or stuck inside, most people will find themselves running low at some point. That's where an external charger battery comes into play.

Let's start with some numbers and quick facts:
USB specification carries 5V (five volts). Officially, it carries 500mA (milliamps), or 0.5A. Running something at 500mA for one hour will consume 500mAh (milliamp-hours) of energy. Amps are a unit of DRAW - or "pull" - not "push". If a battery has 1,000 mAh of capacity, it can have a 500mA draw for two hours. With 10,000mAh of capacity, it can support the same draw for 20 hours. The mA or Amp rating of a power supply (3A in the case of this external battery) is how much load (pull... remember?) it can take without overloading. It will not "push" that much through and kill things, however it can have problems if the load placed on it exceeds its capacity. So basically, a battery can provide energy for hours equal to its capacity in mAh divided by the average draw in mA.

Batteries are just a chemical reaction that makes electricity. More chemicals means more energy can be stored. But more chemicals also means a bigger battery and a heavier battery. Plus it's important to consider that the Lithium-Polymer battery stores electricity at 3.7 volts, so there also has to be circuitry to change that up to 5V for the USB connector. More power takes more space and more weight. As a good example, the battery in an HTC One M7 is 2,400mAh, or a bit under 1/4th the capacity of this. Thus, this device will have a battery that is about four times the size and weight of the battery inside the HTC One. That also means this can potentially recharge an HTC One about four times. It's important to realize that in reality, there is a moderate loss in power capacity due to conversion circuitry so it's normal to expect about 80% or so of the pure math as a result. In my testing, I encountered about 96% of the raw math. Some of that is overhead and safety zone on the devices though.

Got all that?

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Just make it work FASTER!

Both Apple and Android device makers (as well as others) realized that it takes a Long Time to charge a battery with only 500mA of input. So they made their devices capable of drawing more power, often 1.5A or more. They needed a way to know whether they were plugged in to a normal USB port that could only deal with 0.5A though, so they wouldn't overload the port. So both developed circuit signalling that would allow a high-amp charger to identify itself so the device would use the higher current and charge faster. Both of these signalling methods are enabled on this external battery, which is a boon to quick-charging devices. The battery pack implements PowerIQ(tm) to automatically detect the charging type, rather than separate ports, which allows the charging of two Apple or two Android devices simultaneously.

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Pocket-Sized Power - For decent pockets

This is important to consider. This is thicker than a 5" smart phone. Take the HTC One again as an example:
5.4 x 2.7 x 0.4 inches <- HTC One
5.4 x 2.6 x 0.59 inches <- Anker Gen 2

The face of the battery pack is slightly smaller than the phone, but the pack is also slightly thicker. In my case, I wear cargo pants due to everything I need to carry for work. Not only do I have normal side pockets big enough to completely hold a 7" tablet, but I also have cargo pockets. Having effectively "another phone" in size and about two or three phones in weight is no big issue for me. If you have a very small handbag or wear tight pants with tiny pockets, this may not really be "pocket sized" for you. At the same time, this is the most-compact power supply I have found so far, with the amount of power it holds being very good for its size. It's easy to find others that are just as big or even bigger yet hold substantially-less juice. It's also easy to find others of the same price or more expensive that can't hold as much juice either. So in both Power/Size and Power/Cost, this is a winner.

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Features that matter

The Charge Level Indicator LEDs will tell you how it's doing both when charging this battery as well as when using this battery to charge other things. The simple push-button operation makes it easy to turn on and it will turn itself off when the current draw is too low. Nothing connected? It turns itself off. So you can check its battery level with a push and see if you need to recharge it before heading out. Many phones also draw less than this when they are fully charged and asleep, so again, auto-off.

However it's important to note that minimum draw. Some things like Bluetooth headsets and other devices draw very little current when charging. Try to plug in a tiny little on-the-ear headset and charge it and you might be in for a surprise as it doesn't draw enough power to keep the battery pack on.

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Feed Me!

A thing to consider is that the battery itself draws 2 amps when charging. Remember: It doesn't come with a power supply unit. Plug it in to your average computer USB at 500mA or a charger that can't provide enough juice and suddenly... Doom. There is a chance for overloading the supplying source, which can cause it to heat up substantially. Voltage can drop on the supply, causing the external battery pack to not charge at all. And in the even that the battery pack recognizes that it can't get enough current, remember how long we discussed it would take to charge the 10,000mAh battery at 500mA? Yup. 20 hours. More, actually, since there is conversion loss in the charging circuits.

Oh, hey, look! There are reviews that talk about charging it for four hours and not getting past one LED lit and the wall charger heating up. So there are precisely the symptoms of charging on a normal computer USB or with something like a 1A wall charger.

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It died for SCIENCE!

Several things combined with other reviews create one chilling consideration: Numerous people appear to have discovered that the discharge protection on battery packs can be defeated by a highly-intent person.

"But what does THAT mean?" you ask? Time for more science:

Lithium-Anything batteries (Lithium-Polymer in this, Lithium-Ion, etc) must -NEVER- be 100% discharged. Due to this fact, devices (cell phones, media players, iPads, and other things that use Li-Ion batteries) will "lie" about the discharge status and consider the battery to be 0%, or "Completely dead", when it still has about 10% capacity remaining. This is why even when the device says "Dead! No more!" it can still turn on its screen using that "dead" battery for just a second to show you there is no more.

The batteries don't explode if they are discharged too low, or swell up (swelling happens from being overcharged and the charging circuit not going to float voltage), or release toxic gasses. They just Stop Working. Completely. If they are fully-discharged, whether by draw or by age, they will never, ever, EVER hold even an inkling of a charge ever again.

The various reviews that indicate that it would never recharge are likely just people who plugged it into underpowered power sources for insufficient time, however the very nature of this kind of system means that people will Do Not-Good Things. Trying to squeeze the last tiny bit of power out of this battery... fully discharging it and then desperately trying to get it to turn on just for those last few moments... The result: Dead battery pack forevermore.

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Summary - In the end, I hold the power.
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Though it is not perfect and does have room for improvement, this is a very solid device. You can't beat the Power for Size ratio, nor the Power for Cost ratio. The company is on their game, paying attention to reviews and buyers and responsive to inquiries. As long as you pay attention to the charging time needs of this device and the power needs, you'll have no issues with performance. If you don't wear super-tight pants or have a tiny handbag, this is as pocket sized as a Smart Phone and is definitely more pocket-sized for how much power it holds than others.

Take a look at the info I give you and you should be able to tell if this is the best purchase for you. If there's not enough information, let me know what questions you have and I'll try to find out and let you know.

As always, please let Amazon and I know if my review is helpful to you. If it's not, let me know why in a comment so I can give better information in the future. I monitor my comments and reply to questions, and I do updates on reviews when I am able.

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Long term update:
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The original battery pack is still going strong, and for the sake of ensuring this review stayed up to date I acquired one of the 2nd Gen packs that is now on this page. The review has been updated to reflect the 2nd Gen product, but I do still recommend it. The new battery pack has been in use for a month plus prior to the review update to ensure that it is in good working order and to give the most accurate information.
Comment Comments (109) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 12, 2015 12:58 AM PDT


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