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Crescent DB18X 18-Inch Indexing Flat Pry bar, Red/Black
Crescent DB18X 18-Inch Indexing Flat Pry bar, Red/Black
Price: $29.08
22 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 My office innovations
Price: $107.23
21 used & new from $87.21

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: $179.99
9 used & new from $134.99

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: $49.95
4 used & new from $34.93

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: $101.80
2 used & new from $101.80

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

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

5 of 6 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)
Offered by HauteFair
Price: $184.97
39 used & new from $119.99

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
Offered by Ambient Weather
Price: $32.99
4 used & new from $26.99

1 of 2 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
Offered by Cart4deals
Price: $134.88
22 used & new from $109.99

2 of 2 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

Offered by Deals Abound
Price: $34.99
5 used & new from $30.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only works with *some* LED bulbs, August 14, 2014
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

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