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RIDGID VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Shop Vacuum for Car, Garage or In-Home Use, 3-Gallon, 3.5 Peak Horsepower
RIDGID VAC3000 Portable Wet Dry Shop Vacuum for Car, Garage or In-Home Use, 3-Gallon, 3.5 Peak Horsepower
Price: $59.99
2 used & new from $55.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Got stairs?, January 3, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Got stairs? I do, and I hate having to lug a large shop vacuum up them to clean up stuff. I also have a Bosch 12-volt battery-powered vacuum, which can suck up small crumbs and little else. So this Rigid V30000 fits in between them--it's easy to carry up the stairs, and its vacuum power is good enough to justify expending that effort.

Its vacuum power is just okay, though. I used it to clean out a car, and it left a lot of dirt behind that my Porter-Cable shop vac would have captured. I tried it with and without the bag installed, and I didn't notice any difference. Still, it's enough for most work, and in many cases, it just means you have to go back and forth a little more. Rigid does make a VAC4010 that has a 4-gallon case and 6HP motor (and a nice brush attachment, which this doesn't have), though that model costs twice as much. The noise is moderate, too--not terribly quiet, but not shrieking, like some shop vacs.

In most cases, the short power cord and short hose are tolerable--and their shortness makes the whole thing more portable, so I like them this way. But if you want to vacuum both sides of the car from one side, be prepared to hold the vacuum in your lap while you get the other side. The light on the end of the wand is pretty pointless, because it's a narrowly focused LED; if you move (use) the wand, then it's moving all over the place, so it doesn’t illuminate anything unless you stop moving. It's too easy to open the hose vent (whose function is to allow you to vacuum sawdust, for example, without sucking up heavier stuff).

If you're vacuuming something (like carpet) that causes the wand opening to close off--meaning, you run the vacuum over the carpet and the vacuum tries to suck up the carpet itself--then the expanding hose contracts suddenly. If you're doing this over and over again, the hose is constantly contracting and uncontracting, which makes it uncomfortable to use in that capacity. Sorry; hard to describe this, but I did find it irritating, though, again, it makes the entire vacuum more portable, so I'm willing to put up with it.

I also don't like the bags. As someone else pointed out (with pictures), the bag is much too big, awkward, and difficult to arrange inside the case. I tried it without a bag, but the suction was the same, and using it without a bag makes the inside--especially the filter--filthy, naturally.

I think this vacuum could be a lot better than it is, but it's still pretty functional, and it certainly plugs the gap in vacuums in my house, at least.

Canon MG6820 Wireless All-In-One Printer with Scanner and Copier: Mobile and Tablet Printing with Airprint(TM) and Google Cloud Print compatible, Black
Canon MG6820 Wireless All-In-One Printer with Scanner and Copier: Mobile and Tablet Printing with Airprint(TM) and Google Cloud Print compatible, Black
Price: $89.99
20 used & new from $89.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great printer, good scanner, reliable network connection, December 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A few, mostly cost-independent observations on the MG6820:

I printed some images I'd taken with an SLR, and they turned out really well. A 4MB file took 2:20 to print over my network (wired from host computer to router, wireless from router to printer) at the printer's best-quality settings. Colors in the prints matched the colors I saw in Photoshop; I saw no variance. I would say they matched the quality I still get from my Canon PIXMA iP6600D, which is now 10 years old and cost $200 when new. I did see a little bit of paper abrasion at the end of the paper where it came out of the printer, but most people wouldn't notice.

You might say, why can't it do better than that old hunk of junk? I think it's because printers had gottten really good around that time, and since then, improvements have been pretty minor. For example, the ip6600D prints at a maximum resolution of 9,600 x 2,400, with a 3,072-nozzle print head, and the MG6820 prints at a maximum resolution of 4800 x 1200, with 4,096 nozzles. I would guess that many of the product advancements that have been made in the past decade have been in wireless networking, and in making the devices less expensive to manufacture.

Scanning over a network is pretty challenging: Either you equip the device with a large buffer (and again, this is a $99 product) and feed the data from the buffer to the requesting client as quickly as the network will allow, or you limit the allowable resolution and compress the scans. (This is an educated guess; feel free to set me straight). Canon seems to be doing the latter, as the maximum resolution you can scan at using the network driver is 600 dpi. The specs say you can go up to 1200 by 2400 dpi, but I assume that's when connected via USB.

The network scanning interface is as bare as can be: You open a small utility and click a button to choose what kind of scan you want (photo, document, etc.). You don't get a preview of what you're scanning; you don't get to pick where it goes. The scan appears in your Documents folder. But I've found the device's overall networking connection to be very reliable.

I scanned a magazine cover with the MG6820 and again with a Canon CanoScan 9000F, a five-year-old, $240 scanner. I set both to scan at 600 dpi (the 9000F goes up to 1200 dpi, but I wanted to compare scans). The MG6820 produced a 19MB file; the 9000F produced a 44MB file. At 100 percent magnification (meaning, with a 600 dpi image, zoomed in), you can certainly tell the difference; the MG6820's scan looked grainier and less sharp (see my attached screen grab). But colors looked similarly accurate, and viewed at normal dimensions, almost no one would be able to tell the difference. So, I'd say the scanner works pretty well for most work. If you need more resolution, then connect it via USB.

I tried setting up the printer initially using Canon's utility. It took forever, and then it didn't connect. I ended using the on-printer screen; that was quick and easy, though I still had to install the driver.

A few days later, I decided to set it up with another computer; I found it on the network and added it as a device. But that caused it to use a Windows 10 default driver. When I printed using that driver, photos looked terrible--lots of banding. But once I remembered to install Canon's driver, prints looked great.

The printer's web interface doesn't really do much--you can't, for example, set a default printing quality or a default page size. You can't print documents from the web interface, either, though I don't think that's a big deal.

This device prints great photos very quickly, scans pretty well, and does so over a wireless network. That it does so for $99 is pretty amazing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than older Panasonic trimmers; way better than Babyliss Forfex models, November 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own and have owned several hair clippers/trimmers: A couple of Babyliss Forfex models, including the FX780; the Panasonic ER-GS60-S; and now this Panasonic ER-GB60-K. In sum:

Babyliss Pro FX780 Trimmer: Expensive, poor battery, comes with (and requires) lots of comb attachments
Panasonic ER-GS60-S Self-Hair Clipper Wet/Dry: Inexpensive, a little underpowered, best charger, so-so adjustment mechanism
Panasonic ER-GB60-K: Moderate price, good power, great battery, excellent adjustment mechanism

[Because the model numbers are so similar, I'll note which one is new and which one is old below. See attached picture for comparison.]
The ER-GS60-S [old] is really inexpensive (around $50). The ER-GB60K [new] costs a little more, but it's still pretty cheap, so if it dies, no big deal. That's of particular concern with Panasonic's wet/dry shavers; because you're subjecting them to water so frequently, eventually, water will get in. So, I don't buy Panasonic's $200 shavers; I stick with the ones that are $70 or less.

The ER-GB60-K [new] has several advantages over the older model, though. I think its motor is stronger, and the battery lasts longer (even accounting for the fact that the older model I have is now 2.5 years old). I can go at least 10 uses between charges with the ER-GB60-K [new], and it charges in an hour, compared to 15 hours for the ER-GS60-S [old].
My ER-GS60-S [old] still works, but after a couple of uses, its motor slows. It's still usable then, but it takes longer. Of course, it's 2.5 years old, so that's to be expected, but even when it was new, the motor seemed wimpier, and the battery didn't last as long.

I also prefer the wheel adjuster on the ER-GB60-K [new]. It's very smooth; the ER-GS60-S [old]'s ratcheting mechanism works fine, but it just doesn't feel as nice.

The one thing abou the Panasonic ER-GB60-K [new] that I don't like as much is the charger. The ER-GS60-S [old]'s charger is a stand into which you rest the trimmer, whereas the ER-GB60-K [new]'s charger plugs directly into the trimmer. It's much smaller, true, but it plugs into a receptacle that can hold a little water. I always feel the need to stick a cotton swab in there to remove the water, and in my experience with Panasonic shavers, this receptacle is often where water intrudes.

Nevertheless, either one of these models is still superior to the Babyliss Forfex trimmers I had before them, though. Those models were quite expensive, and their batteries didn't last long; they didn't hold a charge after--I'm going to say six months, but I really don't remember. I just remember that it wasn't very long. After that time, I might be able to get one, maybe two uses out of them, so I ended up using them with the cord. As these are so-called "professional" models, you'd think you could replace their batteries, but that's not the case. Want a different hair length? Just dig through the vast assortment of comb lengths until you find the right one (Panasonic's on-trimmer adjustment is much more convenient). And, you can't clean them under running water, as with the Panasonic models.

The Panasonic ER-GS60-S [old] was a pretty good trimmer; the Panasonic ER-GB60-K [new] is even better.

Health o meter nuyu Wireless Connected Scale with Auto-Pairing, BMI Tracking and Disappearing LED Screen, Black
Health o meter nuyu Wireless Connected Scale with Auto-Pairing, BMI Tracking and Disappearing LED Screen, Black
Price: $49.99
2 used & new from $49.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Not very accurate, quirky syncing -- but it's still pretty cool, October 25, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm really surprised that this scale costs as little as it does. I haven't purchased a bathroom scale in a really long time, so I was surprised to find tons of highly rated electronic scales on Amazon for as little as $20, or even less. But devices that work with mobile apps usually command a hefty premium; I wouldn't have been surprised to see a $200 price tag on something like this.

However, if I'd paid $200 for this, I'd be ticked off. The scale's accuracy isn't very good; I step on it once, and it reads 179.4 pounds; step off and step back on, and it reads 175.6 pounds. Step off and back on again, and it reads 175.6 again, and from that point, it stays at that reading over several attempts. But if I come back 20 minutes later, it'll read something different.

The app does not sync reliably for me, either. It has a sync button on its home screen, but that doesn't usually work for me; the app gives me a "No device to pair or invalid device" message, even after several tries. But if I go to the Weight screen and use the same sync button there, it will usually pair and exchange data (you'll see a Bluetooth icon on the scale, next to the weight readout).

For some reason, today the app showed a previous reading of 150.4 pounds--I'm not sure where that came from. Then when I synced, it said 176.2 pounds--"-1.2 pounds under your goal" (or something like that); I synced again a minute later, and my weight was 175.6; the app gave me a "Goal reached!" message.

I'm accustomed to apps and devices that require a bit of sorting out; technology-oriented companies rarely ship anything that's truly done, with all the kinks worked out--or that cannot be further improved. I'm not sure if the inaccuracy can be addressed by a firmware update, though.

Despite its deficiencies, I still think it's a neat product; I've figured out how to work around those deficiencies, for the most part. But I'm focusing on the technology features; if you're buying a scale to use as a, ah, scale, other products might offer better accuracy, albeit without the interesting technology features.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2015 12:27 PM PST

TRENDnet TV-IP862IC 720p HD Wireless Cloud Pan/Tilt/Zoom Surveillance Camera, 2-Way Audio, 25 Feet Night Vision, Free Mobile app for Android/Iphone support, microSD Card slot for convenient storage management, Easy setup, WPS one-touch setup
TRENDnet TV-IP862IC 720p HD Wireless Cloud Pan/Tilt/Zoom Surveillance Camera, 2-Way Audio, 25 Feet Night Vision, Free Mobile app for Android/Iphone support, microSD Card slot for convenient storage management, Easy setup, WPS one-touch setup
Price: $96.35
51 used & new from $96.35

3.0 out of 5 stars TrendNet vs. D-Link vs. Foscam: No clear winner, October 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own a few Webcams--a D-Link DCS-930L, a D-Link DCS-5010L, a Foscam FI8910W, and now this TrendNet TV-IP862IC, which is the only HD camera of the bunch. Its image quality is the best of the bunch, but the web interface and mobile application are just as poor as the others.'

Even if you never view the images from this camera on your desktop computer, you'll need it set up the camera. But on Google Chrome, you'll get a warning that the interface relies on an unsupported plugin (Java), which Chrome has disabled since September 2015. Okay, no big deal; I'll use Firefox--nope; same issue. All right, if I must, Internet Exploder (aka Microsoft Edge on Windows 10). I couldn't get the plugin to work on Edge/Windows 10, and even when I resorted to using Developer Tools (F12, Emulation) and choosing to emulate IE 11, IE10, IE9, and even IE8, I couldn't get the interface to show me a live view. Apparently this is because Edge does not support any plugins at all, and even in an emulation mode, you can't run plugins that aren't installed.

This is not unique to TrendNet, of course. D-Link's cameras (at least, the ones I have) rely on Java, too. D-Link's recommendation is to use IE11, which can still be found on Windows 10 systems, but the two cameras I have are not supported with this method. I could not get IE11 to display the TrendNet camera's interface at all. I tried using emulation on IE11, but that didn't work either. But I'm pretty sure that you could probably get IE11 on Windows 7 to work.

The Foscam FI8910W offers a couple different ways to connect to its interface, so I'm still able to control it via any browser I want, and it works fine.

I usually interface with all of these cameras through Micasa Verde, a home-automation system. With this system, I can see all four cameras at once, on a desktop, on an iPad, or an iPhone, or an Android device. I don't get all of the controls, and the only one that lets me pan or tilt via this interface is the Foscam (via a plugin).

TrendNet's mobile application looks like something out of 1999, but it works fine on an iPhone. It does not come in an iPad version, though. D-Link's mobile applications are far more polished, but they don't let you do nearly as much with them. Foscam's application is crude by comparison.

The TrendNet's image quality is sharp and bright, and its IR/night vision is quite good, too. I've had no connection problems whatsoever; it has never not been connected, and it has never had to be rebooted.

So, I'd probably call this a tie with a comparably priced D-Link HD camera (at this moment, the D-Link I found costs a smidge less). But because of the problems with Java, I'd probably look at a Foscam HD model if I were to need another camera. I'm not sure how these manufacturers are going to solve this issue, except in the case of D-Link, whose solution is simply to not support older cameras--even ones that it still sells.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2015 1:56 PM PDT

Crescent DB18X 18-Inch Indexing Flat Pry bar, Red/Black
Crescent DB18X 18-Inch Indexing Flat Pry bar, Red/Black
Price: $21.74
23 used & new from $16.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Bend it, don’t break it, August 7, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I got this for use removing large baseboards. I have a couple of smaller, thinner pry bars [], and those are fine for delicate stuff or just small jobs, but they don’t provide enough leverage for bigger projects. This pry bar, though, is pretty beefy, and it works really well for baseboards work, and for some of the other demo projects I’ve used it for. For baseboards, I usually position a putty knife against the wall and then pry against it, so that I don’t damage the wall.

The articulating head is, as everyone else says, the best feature. It has 16 positions, though a couple of those positions aren’t actually usable, because they have the blade front too close to the bar. You can’t adjust it with one hand, though, because sometimes the joint requires some fiddling or an extra-hard push to actuate. Some grease in there might help things, but I haven’t gotten around to that.

Usually I try to find tools that balance price and construction; I hate spending money on tools that don’t work well or that I end up throwing out after the first job. This is a pretty good balance; it’s not as fancy as a Mac tool, but at a fifth of the price, I think it’s pretty nice.

basyx by HON HVL511 Mid-Back Task Chair, Black Mesh Fabric
basyx by HON HVL511 Mid-Back Task Chair, Black Mesh Fabric
Offered by Tyler Tool
Price: $106.12
28 used & new from $86.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic, sturdy chair--but not a $700 chair, July 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Price-dependent: This is a very good chair. Price-independent: This is an okay chair.

I've tried to find good office chairs. Once I even committed to spending $700 or even more for the right chair--but I couldn't find a chair that I thought was worth the money. So I ended up buying a $150 chair at Office Depot. It's okay--kinda wobbly, bad positioning, started to look ratty the day after I bought it. But at least I didn't spend $700 on a just-okay chair.

The HON HV511 is the same kind of chair as ones you'd find at Office Depot, Office Max, or Staples, not one you'd find at a dedicated office furniture store. It looks basic: the cushion is hard, so even though it isn't really thin, it feels thin. The arms are hard plastic, and they don't adjust. They fit me very well, because I'm 6'2", but if you're shorter or taller, they probably won't fit you well. The breathable mesh back looks like one I saw on an Office Depot chair.

But it's not all bad. It's a really sturdy chair--it doesn't wobble, and it doesn't squeak. Assembly is very quick and easy, all of the parts are there, and the instructions are quite clear. The posture/positioning is great, for me, and the seat is big and deep, which makes it good for a larger person. (When I hear "task chair," I think of a small seat that I have to perch on, but this is quite the opposite). I find the mesh back to be quite comfortable, though it doesn't make up for the hardness of the seat.

So, for a beer-budget chair, it's a pretty good option, but I'm still looking for my champagne-tastes throne.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2015 9:42 AM PDT

Samsung VU10H3021PY/AA VU3000 Lift and Clean Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, Yellow
Samsung VU10H3021PY/AA VU3000 Lift and Clean Bagless Vacuum Cleaner, Yellow
Price: $176.73
17 used & new from $109.29

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Your rug is dirty…still dirty…okay, now you’re good, May 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This vacuum cleaner’s best feature is its dust sensor. As you’re vacuuming, it lights up red to tell you to keep vacuuming that area; it will turn green when the area is clean. Maybe this is overkill, but with past vacuum cleaners, I simply vacuumed until it looked clean. Now I know it’s clean. It might also make you more efficient: Instead of going over an area several times to make sure it’s clean, you go over it only enough times for the green light to shine. Thank you, Pavlov!

Shiny green light or not, I think it cleans rugs and carpet really well. But bare floors, not so much. You can turn off the agitator, using only suction, and you can modify how much suction is generated (by turning a plastic shroud on the intake pipe), but I found that it won’t pick up large pieces like, say, corn flakes. It pushes them in front of the vacuum cleaner instead of rolling over them and sucking them up.

As with many other vacuum cleaners these days, to tilt the handle back, you have to step on the agitator brush assembly and then pull back on the handle. That’s awkward, and I would imagine it’d be even more awkward if you have balance issues. The old-timey vacuum cleaners had foot switches on the back that made tilting much easier.

But I do like that you can detach the vacuum from its agitator brush assembly. Doing so makes it easy to carry around and use the detachable wand. You can use a smaller agitator attachment with the wand, and together that makes cleaning carpeted stairs much easier than if you were going to try carrying the entire vacuum cleaner with attached agitator brush assembly up and down the stairs. The small agitator attachment works okay; it has a belt to turn the agitator, and it works better than most such devices, but it doesn’t really agitate much, and it’s quite small, so you have to go over stair steps several times. If you don’t keep it moving, the agitator brush will stop moving.

In all, this is a well-engineered vacuum cleaner. I appreciate the thought that went into its design; it is a far sight better than some of vacuums I’ve had in the past.

Speck Products MightyShell Case for iPhone 6/6S - Carrot Orange/Speck Blue/Slate
Speck Products MightyShell Case for iPhone 6/6S - Carrot Orange/Speck Blue/Slate
Price: $34.73
17 used & new from $10.00

4.0 out of 5 stars It's a bit lippy, February 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The best thing about this case is its slightly pronounced lip around the front: It's just enough to protect the screen from face-down drops, or when you place your phone face-down on a table, for example. I'm sure that many of the thousands of iPhone cases have protective lips too, but it's hard to figure out which cases have *enough* of a lip. This one seems just right to me--it's not so much that it makes the device too thick.

On the other hand, while the lip is rubbery and easy to hold onto, the hard-plastic back is pretty slippery, and I've nearly dropped the phone on a couple of occasions because I gripped it by the back. I wasn't really grabbing it by the front of the phone and the back--just perhaps by a couple of fingers on the sides and a couple on the back--but that was enough for a whu-oh moment.

You'd think that, at this price, the case would have some sort of special features--a compartment for a credit card and ID, for example, as the Q Card Case for iPhone 6 has, or makes your phone waterproof. The MightyShell doesn't have anything like that--it's just a basic case. A nice one, yes, and an attractive one, but overpriced, in my opinion. But it's hard to find a case that's perfect for everyone and doesn't cost an outrageous amount. I think there are less-expensive cases out there that are probably just as nice; I just haven't been able to find one.

All that aside, I still like the case, and it's the best one I've found yet, so if you can stomach the price, I'd say you'll be happy with it.

Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity Powered by Braun
Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries Power Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth Connectivity Powered by Braun
Price: $104.99
2 used & new from $104.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bluetooth version works with SmartGuide, too, January 7, 2015
Length:: 0:29 Mins

In my written review, I said that the bluetooth version works with the SmartGuide that comes with the non-bluetooth version. Oral-B support says it doesn't, though, according to some people who've contacted the company. So, here's a very short video to show that, at least with the toothbrush and SmartGuide that I have, they do work together.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2015 9:49 AM PDT

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