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Speck Products MightyShell Case for iPhone 6 - Retail Packaging - Carrot Orange/Speck Blue/Slate
Speck Products MightyShell Case for iPhone 6 - Retail Packaging - Carrot Orange/Speck Blue/Slate
Price: $49.95
3 used & new from $43.96

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 with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
Oral-B Pro 5000 SmartSeries with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
Price: $124.99
2 used & new from $124.99

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.


Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000 Smartseries with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
Oral-B Deep Sweep 5000 Smartseries with Bluetooth Electric Rechargeable Power Toothbrush
Price: $133.19

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bluetooth version works with SmartGuide, too, December 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Length:: 0:29 Mins

When I decided to replace our six-year-old Oral-B toothbrushes, I opted for the Bluetooth version of Oral-B's Deep Sweep 5000 toothbrush, and my wife chose the Oral-B Professional Deep Sweep with Smart Guide Triaction 5000 Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush, 1 Count. A pleasant surprise: Despite the fact that the Bluetooth version does not include Oral-B's SmartGuide device--the little display that communicates with the toothbrush--it will work with the SmartGuide that comes with the non-Bluetooth version.

That's nice, because it's a bit of a hassle to start up your phone, enter your password, find the Oral-B application, and start it up, just to brush your teeth. Most of the time, I simply use the SmartGuide (or rely on the built-in vibration and lights alerts). On the other hand, I prefer to travel light, so I don't want to pack the SmartGuide every time I leave town, even if the new SmartGuide is smaller than the previous version (see pics). In those cases, it's nice to have the application available. In case you were wondering, the new toothbrushes won't work with the old SmartGuide, and you can't buy a SmartGuide by itself.

The app is very well done; in addition to brushing-related information, you can browse the news while brushing. And, the communication between the toothbrush and my iPhone 6 was totally trouble-free--once I'd set it up, I didn't have to think about it at all. I don't, for example, have to turn on anything on the toothbrush or on my phone (other than having Bluetooth active on the phone).

However, I think the Bluetooth radio does have an effect on battery life. The first full charge gave me eight days of brushing (two minutes twice a day on most days, plus a couple extra on weekends). When our six-year-old Oral-B brushes were new, they held out for about two weeks, and even now they still give us about four days of brushing on a full charge. I haven't been able to test the new toothbrushes side by side yet (sorry; I just thought about it yesterday). At least the charger is a bit more convenient than the older version; the old version had a very large, awkward wall plug (see pic).
Otherwise, the toothbrush is roughly the same size, and makes about the same amount of noise, which isn't objectionable. The new toothbrush has lights that flash after every 30 seconds and at 2 minutes; it's not that easy to see the lights, but combined with the vibration alerts (and the SmartGuide, if you're using it), it's plenty to know your progress. I can't really tell any difference in brushing quality between the old Triumph and the new one; they seem about the same to me.

Comparisons aside, it is an excellent toothbrush (which is why I replaced an old Oral-B with a new Oral-B). My only criticism would be about the battery life, and even there, it's still pretty good. Perhaps the next version will brush my teeth for me.


Linksys AC2400 4X4 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Optimal for HD Video Streaming and Lag-Free Gaming (E8350)
Linksys AC2400 4X4 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router, Optimal for HD Video Streaming and Lag-Free Gaming (E8350)
Price: $235.29
12 used & new from $232.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Linksys E8350 vs. Linksys WRT1900AC, October 31, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I own the Linksys E8350 and the Linksys WRT1900AC; I use the WRT1900AC as my main router and the E8350 as a wired/wireless bridge. Comparing them seems like comparing a Chevrolet to a Buick--or perhaps a high-end Toyota to a low-end Lexus. But which one's the Toyota and which one's the Lexus? In my tests, they performed identically, but they are different in a few ways.

For example, you can't set the E8350 to operate in only AC mode; you have to choose either AC and N mode or "mixed" mode (i.e., all WiFi modes). If you choose WiFi AC and N only, you must choose either 20MHz or 20Mhz/40MHz mode; only if you choose "Mixed" mode can you choose 20MHz/40MHz/80MHz. This is one difference from the WRT1900AC, which does not offer 80Mhz operation.

That's because the WRT1900AC supports three data streams, and the E8350 supports four streams. Once upon a time the prevailing theory was that if you used "Mixed" mode, you'd slow your entire network to the speed of the slowest WiFi mode on your network, but that's been debunked. Still, to manage which devices run on which network band, I'd like to be able to set that more precisely. The 8350 will (eventually) be able to support MU-MIMO--multiple users/multiple-input, multiple-output--but it hasn't been enabled yet.

I tested both devices as my primary router first, transferring files to and from a wired workstation to a wired NAS, to and from a wireless-N laptop, and to a wireless-AC mobile phone (a 2014 Motorola MotoX). I saw no difference in performance with any of these devices. That's because, while the E8350's CPU is a little faster, you'd really have to try to tax a router's CPU--multiple simultaneous users pulling and pushing lots of data. Even with my family's ever-growing array of network devices and bandwidth appetite, we simply don't fill the pipe most of the time, even when we're running a couple of TiVos, a few computers, and a few other devices simultaneously.

The only thing I really don't like about the E8350 is that it uses the same dowdy interface that Linksys has used for at least the last decade. The WRT1900AC--introduced a few months before--sports a much more attractive, functional interface. I don't really care one way or another about the devices' external design, except that the E8350's more subdued look makes it blend in better if you locate it in public view, vs. the WRT1900AC's Star Wars look. After a few problems with the WRT1900AC initially, it has been working reliably for the past couple of months; the E8350 has worked reliably from the start. So maybe dowdy is better.

I do find it a little difficult to comparison-shop among the now-several similar Linksys router products. Linksys offers the WRT1900AC (~$200), the E8350 (~$250), and the EA9200 ($300). The EA9200 has an additional radio, so you can run a 2.4GHz network and two 5GHz networks, but it has only three antenna, and a slower CPU. If I want Linksys's best router, which one do I choose?


Ambient Weather BC-2000 Intelligent Battery Charger for AA/AAA Rechargeable Batteries
Ambient Weather BC-2000 Intelligent Battery Charger for AA/AAA Rechargeable Batteries
Price: $34.99
2 used & new from $34.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Able to restore old batteries, but not always magic, October 5, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've had several battery chargers over the years, but this is the first one I've had that can restore old batteries--to give them the ability to be charged and store a charge again. It works--sometimes, but occasionally, it needs some help.

I used the BC-2000 with AA batteries of several different types and ages. Newer batteries had no problem taking a charge, but older batteries were hit and miss, as I'd expected. With one battery that would not take a charge at all with another, older charger, I was able to use the BC-2000 to "refresh" it and then charge it up to 800 mAh. With another battery that would hold only 400 mAh, the BC-2000 refreshed it so that it could hold 1472 mAh.

But the BC-2000 would not refresh another battery that was bought at the same time as one of the others; it would not charge it at all, despite several attempts. So then I put the battery into an old charger, which has no refreshing capabilities, and the battery took some charge, apparently. Afterward, I put the battery into the BC-2000, which was then able to charge the battery.

Because it does refresh some batteries, I wouldn't call any of the above criticism. But I do have one criticism: The charger does not, in its basic version, charge C or D cell batteries. You must purchase the version that has a C/D cell add-on (and it's not part of the main unit). If you decide that you want to charge C and D cells later, well, you can't buy the add-on module separately, as far as I've been able to find.

So, somewhat magical, and easy to use; just make sure you get the right version first time out.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 29, 2014 1:09 PM PDT


Pioneer SE-CX9-S Headphones
Pioneer SE-CX9-S Headphones
Price: $215.12
26 used & new from $199.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heavy, heavy headbuds, August 17, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
By calling its SE-CX9-S "headphones" and not "earbuds," Pioneer is either trying to imply that they offer the sound quality of headphones or that they are more substantial than mere earbuds. They are something of a hybrid, with the bass response you might expect of headphones and a size and weight that falls in between typical earbuds and a set of headphones. But the overall sound quality, while good, doesn't blow me away, and their size and weight irritate my ears.

Describing audio quality is difficult without resorting to gag-inducing flowery language, but I'll do my best. I compared the SE-CX9-Ss to a couple of pairs of earbuds and a pair of Sennheiser headphones over the course of a week. I used an iPad, an Android phone, a couple of computers, and an NAD stereo system. I was careful to adjust the volume when switching among the earbuds and headphones, because they all have different sensitivity ratings. I found that the SE-CX9-Ss do provide the breadth of sound that you'd expect of headphones. Music sounds full, with good reproduction of deep bass, something that true earbuds usually lack. But to me, vocals don't sound as clear as with the $33 Sennheiser CX 300S Bass-Driven Lightweight In-Ear Headphone (Discontinued by Manufacturer) earbuds they replaced.

One song really showed me the difference: "Angel From Montgomery" from The Bonnie Raitt Collection. It's a live duo with John Prine, and it has this incredibly deep, rumbling bass line; extremely bright guitar lines; and Bonnie Raitt's powerful vocals. If I play it loudly on a stereo system with good speakers, it can make the windows rattle, you can feel the air move, and it will make the hair on my arms stand up. "How can a person, go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have *nothing* to say?" But with the SE-CX9-Ss, it just sounds...nice. Better bass than the Sennheiser earbuds, but again, I thought the vocals sounded better with the earbuds.

The SE-CX9-Ss are very big and heavy, too: 1.2 ounces, or 34 grams, compared to 0.35 ounces or 10 grams for the old Sennheiser earbuds. Of course, they aren't as heavy as the Sennheiser headphones I used, which weigh 5.4 ounces or 153 grams, but then, most headphones aren't inserted into and pulling on your ear canals. Forget about wearing these during exercise.

The SE-CX9-Ss have a hard protrusion at the rear of each bud that irritates my ears, too (see the accompanying photos). They fit fine in my ear canals, but their weight pulls them down so that the protrusion buries into an area of my outer ear, and over time, it hurts. I've tried rotating them so that the protrusion doesn't hit me in the same spot, but because the cords are so heavy, they eventually settle in the same spot.

The headbuds are gorgeous, though, and the construction quality is superb. You could probably use them to hammer nails, plug a leaky dike, or--after changing the ear covers, of course--as a baby pacifier. The inline controls work well with my iPad, but they don't work at all with my Android phone or computers.

So, I like the SE-CX9-S's broad audio range and the powerful bass, but not enough to overcome the size and weight issues.
Comment Comment | Permalink


PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
Offered by North Coast Lighting
Price: $43.78

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only works with *some* LED bulbs, August 14, 2014
This review is from: PADDLE DIMMER-450W SP/3W (LED,CFL)
This is one of the simpler Adorne switches. You have to be careful to get the version of it that works with LEDs. But even then, you still might have problems, because while the outside of the package says that it works with LEDs, on the inside, it says that it works with only certain LED bulbs (it provides a list). Well, the chandelier for which I was installing this switch has five brand-new Philips LED bulbs, and they aren't on the list. At anything less than 100 percent power, they flicker. Of course, I didn't figure that out until after I'd freed the switch from its returns-discouraging packaging and installed it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 14, 2014 6:32 PM PDT


Linksys WRT AC1900 Dual-Band+ Wi-Fi Wireless Router with Gigabit & USB 3.0 Ports and eSATA, Smart Wi-Fi Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere (WRT1900AC)
Linksys WRT AC1900 Dual-Band+ Wi-Fi Wireless Router with Gigabit & USB 3.0 Ports and eSATA, Smart Wi-Fi Enabled to Control Your Network from Anywhere (WRT1900AC)
Price: $212.09
33 used & new from $174.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great range, but here's how to extend it even further, July 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I upgraded to the WRT1900AC from a Linksys E4200, a Wi-Fi N router that was state-of-the-art when it was introduced in 2011. The E4200 was a great router--and that's why I combined it with the WRT1900AC to extend my wireless *and* my wired network. Here's how.

I needed really good, high-speed connections for a few devices located far away from my router--a television, a TiVo, and a Blu-ray player, and Wi-Fi didn't work very well with these devices. So, I set up the WRT1900AC, and then I set up the old E4200 in bridge mode. (See http://kb.linksys.com/Linksys/GetArticle.aspx?docid=28cee6a2fb0d4176a2210942d1d5836c_Setting_up_the_Linksys_E4200_in_bridge_mode.xml for instructions). I strung Ethernet cables under the house, installing jacks behind the television, and then connected the E4200 below it.

The WRT1900AC has only four gigabit Ethernet ports, but configuring the E4200 as a bridge gave me three additional Ethernet ports in that remote location, and it gave me a strong Wi-Fi N signal in that part of the house. If you decide to do this too, make sure you connect an Ethernet cable from one of the WRT1900AC's Ethernet ports to an Ethernet port--not the WAN port--on the secondary router; otherwise, the Ethernet ports won't work with other devices. I also configured both routers to use the same SSID, so that devices would move from one router's signal to another as the devices moved around the house; the trick was to configure the routers to use different Wi-Fi channels--ones that don't overlap.

Wireless coverage with the WRT1900AC is certainly much better than with the E4200 in my house, I assume because the WRT1900AC has those four external antenna, and the E4200 has none. Still, it isn't good enough to cover my entire house, which is pretty modestly sized, but which has plaster walls, some knob-and-tube wiring, and other things that interfere with wireless signals. I would like to investigate swapping out the WRT1900AC's external antenna for larger/longer ones, but I'm waiting for Linksys to introduce some.

The WRT1900AC has flaked out on me a couple of times, though. Twice in the first month all of its settings have been wiped out, requiring me to set the thing up all over again. It hasn't happened in a more than a week, but now I back up the configuration every time I change something, so that, if it happens again, I can easily restore the settings. (Look under Troubleshooting>Diagnostics>Router configuration to back up or restore your configuration).

I like the new Network Map, which shows you all of your devices and their status. I like that it lets you edit the devices' names and customize their pictures, and that you can make DHCP reservations from this map. However, the list isn't always up to date, and it's often missing devices that are obviously connected. I've had this same problem with the E4200 and the Linksys WRT64GS that I had before it. Also, the Network Map page has an "Internet usage" report, which, obviously, is supposed to show you how much bandwidth devices in the map are using, but it's pretty useless, because it shows you only current, live usage, and only Internet usage. You can't see usage over time, and you can't see local network usage. Seeing as the router uses "open" firmware, it might be nice if someone would make this more useful.

I still have mainly Wi-Fi N devices, so I couldn't test Wi-Fi AC yet (and I'm sure others are doing that). But I did test Ethernet performance, thinking that perhaps the CPU and RAM that Linksys tout might have a positive effect on wired performance. Before I set up the WRT1900AC, I read and wrote 10.6GB of folders and files from a NAS connected via Ethernet to the E4200 router to a computer that was also connected via Ethernet. I also performed the same tests to a laptop connected via 5GHz Wi-Fi N. After I set up the WRT1900AC, I ran all the tests again, and in all cases, the times were almost the same--and certainly within any margin of error. So, if my tests are any indication, any performance boost you might expect will come only with Wi-Fi AC.

I admire Linksys's attempt to pull out all the stops with this product; it really is ambitious. But I'm looking forward to a few more firmware updates, which will hopefully make it realize its full potential.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 21, 2014 10:34 AM PDT


Termidor SC Termiticide 20 oz.
Termidor SC Termiticide 20 oz.
Offered by WeSellDirect
Price: $63.00
15 used & new from $63.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste time with over-the-counter ant traps/baits, May 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought an old house with, as I soon realized, iffy drainage and a serious ants problem. In the past, at other houses, I had found sugar water mixed with boric acid to be very effective, but in this house, over a few months, it just didn't work. I also tried Terro and other over-the-counter baits; they didn't work either. I think the previous owner of this house either never did anything about the ants or didn't know what to do about them, and so there must have been tremendously large ant colonies under my property and those of the neighbors.

We also had a sub-subterranean termite problem, which the termite guy treated with this stuff. I decided to read about it (trying to figure out which works better, this or that orange-oil stuff), and I saw that it's supposed to work against ants, too. So, I bought this and a cheap sprayer, and I sprayed it into openings between our house and our patios (the house is surrounded by patios and clay tile) and into areas between grass and concrete. I was able to avoid spraying it into or onto places where my kids would be playing, thankfully. It took a while, because the sprayer, while it worked well, sprayed pretty slowly. I saw a YouTube video wherein a pest dude mixed buckets of the stuff, peeled back the grass around a house's foundation, and poured it into the resulting trench, but I think that was for termites; for ants, I don't think you have to use as much.

So now, it's been about two months since I treated our property, and I have seen an ant in about seven weeks. None--none at all. In the first week, I did find several dead ants that had made their way inside the house; I think they came into contact with the Termidor and then expired inside. But since then, nothing.

It does take time to apply, but it's not difficult, and I have to say, this is a very effective product.


Calvin Klein Mens 2 Pack Hip Brief, White, Medium
Calvin Klein Mens 2 Pack Hip Brief, White, Medium
Price: $20.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reasonably good alternative to Jockey GO Stretch, May 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I loved Jockey Go Stretch briefs; I wore them for several years, until Jockey discontinued them (as Jockey often does to my favorite products; it makes it hard to be loyal to the brand when the brand isn't loyal to you). Anyway, I tried a couple of Jockey alternatives, and hated them; then I decided that I was through with Jockey, and I researched and then purchased several possible replacements for the Go Stretch briefs, with one of the requirements being that they were cotton briefs with a little bit of stretch material incorporated; I spent about $120 on several different models. Some so-called "briefs" were really extra-large thongs (Papi Mens' brief); some looked and felt like grandpa underwear (Dockers--ugh).

Of all of them, I like the Calvin Klein model best. It doesn't ride up my derriere; it's supportive but doesn't cramp my style in front. It's a little smaller, and a little thicker, material-wise, than the Go-Flex, so it's tighter around my 34-inch middle, but it's still fine.

So, goodbye Jockey, hello, Calvin Klein. Just like Back to the Future.


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