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Paul E. Harrison RSS Feed (Stuart, FL)

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Lenovo IdeaPad K1 130422U 10-Inch Tablet (Black)
Lenovo IdeaPad K1 130422U 10-Inch Tablet (Black)
9 used & new from $79.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Better value tablets are readily available, April 2, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I don't often write negative reviews, but the K1 really is a turkey, in large part because it comes from a company that doesn't seem to care any more.

Let's talk about what it is and what it isn't. This is a 10" tablet. Its rivals are the Galaxy Tab 10, the ASUS Transformer, the Archos G9, and a host of other tablets. The K1 has one advantage over the others - it has oodles of storage, with 32Gb in the version that competes with the lowest priced of its rivals.

The K1 has a decent enough screen too.

Now let's look at what's wrong with it.


1. The proprietary dock connector

There's no USB port or charger port on this tablet. Instead, connections are via a proprietary dock connector, which can either be used with the USB cable, or the charger, but not both. Don't lose your USB cable, there's no way to replace it.

2. No USB charging

If you lose your charger - well, the good news is Lenovo has finally started selling them. But don't expect to use a regular USB charger to charge it - it's not going to work.

3. The slope

Staggeringly, Lenovo has made a semi-permanent choice for you on the age old question: should I read this PDF in landscape, or play this game in portrait? The bottom of the tablet is angled such that the tablet can only be used in portrait mode if you're holding it. Put it down, and it'll slope towards one of the wider ends, forcing landscape mode. There's a slider button on one side to kind of override that, but it's fiddly and, frankly, a lot of apps ignore it.

4. The button

So, you're trying to hold your tablet. Make sure you don't hold the side with the entirely unnecessary button that does the same thing that the joypad thing does on an Android phone. This button is not supported by the Honeycomb operating system. It should not be there. That it's there is many accidents waiting to happen, which they do.

5. Oh that dock again, and the headphone jack, are on the "bottom"

...which means that you can't stand it up when you're listening to music or charging it because doing so causes the tablet to balance on the cable-side of whatever's plugged in to it.

6. Battery not user replaceable.

I know, nobody cares, Apple says you can just throw away your $400 widget and buy a new one when the battery is dead, but I care.

7. USB client only

You can attach the device to a computer for transferring files. You can't, however, attach USB devices to it (such as USB flash sticks.) Lenovo has hinted that all that's needed is the right cable - but have chosen not to make such a thing.


Lenovo has added some nice tools to Honeycomb but you need to be aware of the following:

1. The pre-installed OS is awful

...which means you'll have to update it. No big deal, except you have to manually install EVERY SINGLE UPDATE Lenovo has released for the tablet. I'm not kidding. The entire process - go to Settings, About tablet, System updates, Start to check new version, Yes, {wait}, {reboot}, {wait} - had to be repeated about five or six times when I first got mine last November. And while it may look for updates automatically, installing them still needs confirmation each step of the way.

2. The updated OS isn't exactly fantastic

The tablet is relatively speedy, it can run GTA III without breaking a sweat, but for some reason just scrolling through a web page can tax the system so much you actually see it rendering the text. Good grief. And no, it's not reliable, I have to reboot mine periodically, although the latest update suggests its getting better.

3. Will it get Icecream Sandwich?

Don't ask Lenovo, because you will NOT get a straight answer. Lenovo's official forums are currently full of people going absolutely bananas trying to get this question answered. The likely answer right now is no. It looks like Lenovo intends to abandon the K1 completely, but they're under a lot of pressure, so who knows?


I can be one room over from my Wireless gateway and only get the bearest of signals. Right now I'm in an office and there's a gateway barely ten feet from me - one out of five bars. My cellphone reports the same gateway with all bars. Again, Lenovo forums show many, many, people hopping mad over this. The weird part is it didn't used to be that big a problem.

Is it worth getting? No. Quite simply, it's a lemon. I cannot emphasize how strongly I feel on this. My suspicion is that the K1 was designed to not compete with the much more favorably reviewed Thinkpad tablet, but there's bad, and then there's just awful, and this is just awful.


Sanoxy Bluetooth Keyboard with Folding Leather Cover Case and Stand for  Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch P7500 / P7510, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Bluetoooth Keyboard Case Black (SANOXY_GLXTAB-10)
Sanoxy Bluetooth Keyboard with Folding Leather Cover Case and Stand for Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch P7500 / P7510, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Bluetoooth Keyboard Case Black (SANOXY_GLXTAB-10)
Offered by Rino Reserve
Price: $28.99
7 used & new from $24.00

288 of 329 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent, but beware the pitfalls, March 22, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First a note: I bought this purely for the keyboard. My tablet doesn't have such a case available and I was hoping it'd fit but had back-up plans if it didn't. As it was... no, my Lenovo K1 (not recommended) does not fit this case, but the keyboard works, so... I have to say though it's a very nice case and I wish it did fit. If I had a Tab I'd be all over it.

Let's talk about the keyboard. It's made of rubber, and the "Q" to "P" keys occupy slightly less (say, 5%?) width than the Q through P keys on my desktop keyboard, which isn't bad and certainly isn't significantly different enough to cause any problems. The keyboard is a standard bluetooth unit, and will work with any device that needs a bluetooth keyboard. It charges via a micro-USB port - a cable, but not a charger, is supplied with the unit, so you can charge it by plugging it in to your PC.

Once turned on, the keyboard seems to be active all the time - that is, I didn't have problems with the keyboard "going to sleep" and needing to be pressed a few times before becoming active again like other BT keyboards I've used. Overall, it's a good implementation of Bluetooth.

The fact the keyboard is rubber makes sense - you don't want something harder scratching up your screen. But at the same time, it does have some downsides. It's not really possible to type at speed as the buttons frequently, if pressed too hard or in the wrong place, double (iiee you offften fiind youu''ve typped soometthing liike thiss) The feel is OK, but overall it kind of reminds me of a Sinclair Spectrum - remember them?

Another factor that causes problems is that not all keys are present, and those that are aren't always in the same place. There's no right shift key, which you're likely to hit out of habit. The quotation marks are by the arrow keys, rather than near the Enter key. += is by Backspace. There's a row of dedicated function keys at the top of the keyboard, but most of these appear to be non-functional on my tablet.

The major advantage of the keyboard is that it's somewhat nicer to type on than the screen, and that the screen doesn't get messed up by having a huge keyboard occupy a third of it when you use it.

Overall some compromises need to be made to make a useful device and they're not bad, but you need to bear them in mind. The keyboard will not turn your tablet into a Netbook, but this keyboard is definitely better than the on screen keyboards by a few order of magnitudes. And the price is good too.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 3, 2014 6:58 AM PDT

Twitter Mobile Web (Kindle Fire Edition)
Twitter Mobile Web (Kindle Fire Edition)

1.0 out of 5 stars What. The.?, December 23, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a developer, I can understand why the major Twitter apps aren't available for Kindle Fire, but it's one thing to say "Not yet", and quite another to release something that's actually a bookmark. (This isn't even one of those "Web page disguised as an app" apps, this "app" actually does nothing except open a new tab in your web browser.)

For those wondering: Ordinary Android (the type on your smartphone or Android Tablet) has a number of APIs built in that are supplied by Google, collectively known as Google mobile services. Many apps, including most official Twitter apps, use those APIs for things like storing account information and receiving updates - the latter because Google provides a very efficient, battery saving, notification mechanism.

Unfortunately, those APIs are completely missing on the Kindle Fire, in large part because Amazon didn't work with Google on their version of the tablet operating system. Now, I'm not criticizing this - Amazon is perfectly capable of offering alternatives that should be just as good, and they've done a great job with the interface in general, but it does mean that simply because an app is available for ordinary Android, it doesn't mean the same app will work on the Fire. You can pretty much consider it a different system, albeit with some degree of compatibility.

The "right" thing for Twitter to have done under the circumstances would have been to work with Amazon on releasing a proper Twitter client using the Fire's APIs, while posting a "Coming soon" message for anyone who asks. What they've done here, however, is not right. It wastes everyone's time to post a fake application for people to download.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice idea, but not quite ready for prime time, November 19, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Archos 28 is a dirt cheap Android-based PDA. To a certain extent, because of the price, I'm loath to criticize it, it's certainly value for money. But at the same time, to get to the Archos 28's price, Archos had to cut some fairly major corners, and it's questionable how much more useful the device is in practice to, say, a lower cost MP3 player.

The 28 is approximately the same shape and size as a very small smartphone. The entire surface of the device is touch sensitive, covering a screen and some buttons. The system runs Android (Froyo), and has Wifi, USB, and stereo audio connections. There's a built in speaker and microphone. The device includes an accelerometer, so the screen changes orientation depending on how the device is held, just like your smartphone.

The Android OS is complete - that is, Archos hasn't cut it down or reskinned it. That said, "full Android" isn't what people think it is - the Google applications, including Android Market, are not available. This is because those applications are controlled by Google, who makes them available only to device makers who produce devices according to their specifications, and unfortunately, the 28 lacks certain functions Google wants implemented. They're not important for a glorified MP3 player, but they're not there, and so there's no Android Market. Instead there's an alternative app store, and Amazon also makes its App Store available to download too - although contrary to the ad above, you can't use it to install Amazon's own (regular) store app.

So... what's the downside? Well, the major issues are the touchscreen and the screen itself. Put bluntly, they're awful, and they make the device an utter chore to use as an Android device.

The touchscreen is resistive. This means it measures pressure on the screen to determine where you're pointing. This is the same technology that's been used in touchscreens since the Apple Newton and the Palm Pilot, where it was considered usable because the devices were designed to be used with styli. Modern touchscreens are usually "capacitive", a technology that is more accurate and forgiving. Resistive screens need as small a point on the screen to be "pressed" as possible, otherwise they rapidly lose accuracy, and the 28's is no exception. The keyboard is virtually unusable if used with a finger, and is barely usable with a fingernail. Using a finger to touch other user interface elements, larger elements like icons and menu items, isn't much better, with "misses" frequent. With no stylus bundled, and nothing to hold a stylus even if one was included, it's an infuriating input system, especially for anyone frequently switching between a normal Android phone and this device.

The screen is the second problem with this device. Low contrast and low resolution, it's not big enough to show both the device's keyboard and much of the UI, meaning you're frequently typing blind. The resolution makes the "web" features (it's advertised as an Internet tablet after all) barely worth having.

In all honesty, the number of uses for this device are very low, and if you're considering getting one as a media tablet, you're probably better off getting a dedicated media device. As an Internet tablet it's... it's not. You might find it useful if you plan to use the Android features for something a little more off-the-wall (I'm investigating using it as a SIP-based cordless phone), but don't get it as an Internet tablet. You'll find it more trouble than it's worth.

Thermaltake CL-P0497 Intel Heatsink with Fan
Thermaltake CL-P0497 Intel Heatsink with Fan
Price: $9.99
66 used & new from $4.99

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid, September 25, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After buying a fan that kept falling out of place, largely because of rather crude expanding nylon connectors that never worked properly, I ended up deciding enough was enough and resolved to buy another fan.

And I'm very happy with this one. Here's the deal. It's the usual combo fan/heatsync, with a three pin connector (if you need to know that kind of thing.) What I like about it is how it connects to the motherboard. The fan comes with a frame that fits on the back of the motherboard, with four short metal tubes (one on each corner of the frame) that fit through the holes in the motherboard that you'd usually use to hook the fan up with. The fan then screws into these tubes. The result is that the fan really can't come off.

Downside? The only downside of this approach is that you will have to remove your motherboard completely from your computer to fit it. That's a little bit of a pain, but in my view it's worth it.

I wholeheartedly recommend this fan.

Siemens Gigaset 2-line Cordless Phone with 2 Handsets (GIGASET-C285-2)
Siemens Gigaset 2-line Cordless Phone with 2 Handsets (GIGASET-C285-2)

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The GAP between DECT and DECT, June 7, 2011
Go to the Siemens Gigaset website and you'll see this described as a DECT 6.0 phone. A DECT 6.0 logo can be found on the base station too. Yet... this is the first DECT phone system I've ever come across where only "approved" handsets (specifically the C28H) will work on it. Not even other Siemens' DECT 6.0 handsets will register with it, as I discovered after both trying it (I bought this as an upgrade to my E450) and calling Siemens to find out whether there was a magic handshake or something I had to perform.

What does this mean? Well:
* The big difference between DECT and the other systems is handset interoperability. You can use the handsets you want with the base station you want as long as they're both DECT, or both DECT 6.0 (same system, different frequency). DECT achieves this using a system called GAP.
* The C285 doesn't support GAP. It uses a proprietary variant of DECT.
* There are many, many, multiline multiple handset cordless phone systems that aren't DECT. They're pretty much all a fraction of the price. Hell, you can probably find one with four or more handsets for half of this turkey's $150 price tag.
* There really isn't anything to distinguish between this and the cheap ones. The lack of real DECT support makes the C285 just as proprietary as the cheap systems. The flimsy, large, cheap silver handsets, with their monochrome LCD screens are expensive and offer nothing radical in the way of functionality. The base station has an answerphone and a speakerphone, which is nice but hardly unusual.

Siemens used to be the gold standard of digital cordless phone systems and I've always recommended them in the past. This... not so much. At half the price I might recommend it as something to consider if you don't need DECT, or if a 900MHz or 2.4GHz system would interfere with other devices in your home, but not at this price, with this spec.

If the van's a rockin, don't come a knockin Large Bumper Sticker
If the van's a rockin, don't come a knockin Large Bumper Sticker

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent variation on a timeless classic, May 16, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First popularized in the 1970s, the "If the van's a-rockin', don't come a knockin'" bumper sticker, with its overtones of sexual liberation and anarchic rebellion, has a long and illustrious history. An anthem of free love, the sticker has never lost its resonance, and today enjoys a role reminding us that the van, co-opted by popular culture as some kind of utilitarian wagon loved only by the middle aged, is truly the engine of democratic transportation, a personal symbol that reminds us that a van is not merely for transporting children, but for those who wish to create the van passengers of the future.

This bumpersticker is an excellent variation of the classic. Waterproof and glossy, the almost luminous green letters stand out on a jet black background, and while some may criticize the font as being overly casual, reducing readability, the size and liberal use of lowercase ensures that the majority of people following your rockin' Honda Odyssey will easily scan the words, reminded that a van is what it is, that they are not following some gas guzzling utility-challenged cramped SUV, but a vehicle whose rebellious origins are plain to see.

Definitely recommended.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 1
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Season 1
DVD ~ Lena Headey
Offered by Solo Enterprises
Price: $12.95
67 used & new from $2.35

115 of 125 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start, but a good answer to the movies, February 29, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
It's a rare thing that a TV series based upon a movie's premise ends up being as good as the show's origins: while slow to start, with a dreadful pilot and many sub-par episodes, the first series of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, over-all, became something that arguably lived up to that standard.

The show follows Sarah and John as they try, again, to prevent Judgement Day. The show follows on from the original two movies, generally ignoring the third (thankfully.) Much of the plot surrounds the character of Cameron, a female terminator sent back from the future to protect John. The show, so far at least, has eschewed predictable cliches involving the character, and often takes the viewer by surprise, from displays of dark humor to dragging the viewer through alternate displays of coldness and humanity.

Episodes I particularly recommend include "Dungeons and Dragons" and the jaw-dropping follow-up "The Demon Hand". Performances are variable. Lena Headey doesn't match Linda Hamilton's portrayal of the title character, reflecting more the post-La Femme Nikita (Dark Angel, Bionic Woman) obsession with angsty heroines. Thomas Dekker either gives the best or the second-best performance as John Connor, depending on whether you're familiar with the Director's Cut of Terminator 2. It's a good performance. The best performances are arguably by Summer Glau and Richard T Jones, as Cameron - a Terminatrix sent back to protect the Connors - and James Ellison - the surprised FBI agent chasing Sarah Connor - respectively. Glau's performance, while initially confused, provides depictions of humour and coldness that surprises or shocks the viewer every time.

This DVD set is reasonable for what you pay for, reflecting the short nine-episode run of the first season, cut short due to the 2008 Writer's Strike. The set includes a few commentaries and cut scenes. The aforementioned "Demon Hand" episode is complemented by a "rough-cut" of an alternative version, though the jarring changes in visual and audio quality make it somewhat difficult to enjoy by itself. Over-all, visual quality is excellent, I doubt you'll get much more enjoyment out of the less portable Blu-ray edition.

For all of their qualities, the original two Terminator films - at least, as released theatrically - were basic killer robot fantasies with their depth being limited to surface level discussions of time travel and anthropomorphism. Some would argue that the Director's Cut of T2 was a considerable step above this and I'd agree with them. But regardless, the first series of The Sarah Connor Chronicles managed to rise above the Theatrical versions of the movies: what seemed like another attempt to cash in on a pop-culture classic turned out to be a smart, entertaining, thought-provoking science fiction series. This DVD set is definitely recommended.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 13, 2012 8:50 PM PST

Samsung DVD-R130 DVD Recorder
Samsung DVD-R130 DVD Recorder
6 used & new from $74.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressive, November 9, 2007
The DVD-R130 is a DVD recorder designed to record standard NTSC video. It can take S-Video, composite, antenna/cable, or Firewire feeds. It has multiple levels of quality. Outputs include composite, S-Video, and component, and the recorder can output ED (progressive scan) signals via the component outputs. Use with a regular TV that has only antenna/cable inputs requires the use of a modulator.

As this is my first DVD recorder, I don't have much to compare it to directly, but I can make a number of obvious comments:

As a DVD player, the player is clunky and poorly spec'd. There are three menu buttons on the remote, and two information buttons, one of which, apparently as a joke, is labeled "ANYKEY". This is the first player I've ever come across that doesn't play PAL discs. Cheap no-name brand DVD players generally do (if either the disc or player is region free), and will even convert it for use on an NTSC set. The Samsung's lack of support for PAL is all the more surprising given the move over the last few years from NTSC TVs to HD TVs (that generally accept most scan rates.)

As a recorder, the player is unreliable. I tried three different media types before getting anything to record successfully. The first disc I tried the recorder "recorded" on to but missed the first twenty minutes of the program being recorded, the twenty minutes playing as a black screen with occasionally bursts of audio. The second, an Imation DVD-RW, was unrecognized by the player (A second disc from the same pack was recognized, but reluctantly - the player generally takes two minutes to figure out it has a DVD-RW inserted.) The third, a Fuji-film DVD-R, was recognized in less time and the recording appears to be successful.

The user interface is also clunky. As an example, title renaming is done via an arrow-key operated "keyboard": it takes around five minutes to enter something as simple as "FAMILY GUY - BLUE HARVEST". I found frequent occasions that navigating from one menu to another involved hitting the same button twice (by design, not because of the usual remote control problems.) The device suffers also from those problems you'd expect to go with DVD recording - it's just not as simple as "hit record, hit stop, you have your recording" - you have to go through the trouble of "finalizing" discs (even with DVD-RWs where this could be automatic.)

On the plus side, the support for Firewire input (though this is documented as being a camcorder specific thing, I have no idea if it works with anything but camcorders) and S-Video is good, as is the support for four levels of quality, allowing up to four hours of video on a single layer DVD-R, is good.

In the end, I'd recommend using a separate DVD player to play your DVDs, and to use this strictly as a VCR replacement. And don't buy it for your stereotypical grandma, she'll never use it.

DVD ~ Charlize Theron
Offered by Amy's Books & Stuff
Price: $13.99
238 used & new from $0.01

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An film about human character, March 8, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Monster (DVD)
A real life prostitute who flips and kills six people seems perfect TV-movie material, but not for a genuine attempt to interpret the character with anything other than the most cynical, shock-laden, exploitative eye. Monster, about the killings of Aileen Wuornos, proves otherwise.
Using a simplified narrative, and pseudonyms for all the characters except Wuornos, Monster covers the penultimate period of Wuornos's life where she killed six people before her 1991 arrest. The film begins with a portrayal of someone on the verge of suicide. From there we see her find love, nearly lose everything (in one of the few genuinely harrowing scenes in this film) to a murderous rapist, and, apparently change from a victim into a flawed avenging angel. There's some clever use of irony and artistic license here - one implication, for example, is that the first person to die at the hands of Wuornos intended to kill Wuornos after raping her, implying that he would have ended up being a serial killer had he succeeded.
Much has been made of Charlize Theron's Oscar winning performance as Wuornos, a credit she certainly deserves. Without her delivery and her control over the character, writer and director Patty Jenkins would not have made as powerful a case as she has. Wuornos's powerful personality, outer strength, and inner insecurities, are masterfully portrayed. I'm lead to believe by people I know with connections to Wuornos that Theron's Wuornos persona was spot on. Theron is able to make us feel sympathetic towards the character even in the midst of some terrible crimes, where you feel like screaming at her to stop, for her sake as well as her victim's.
Not having heard of Wuornos before this film's release, I wanted to know where Jenkins got her story from, and mostly drew blanks. Looking on the 'net you could be forgiven for believing a conspiracy exists to hide who Wuornos was. The media and police needed a serial killer and presented Wuornos as one. When problems with her conviction for the murder of Richard Mallory became apparent, advocates for rape victims and victims of prostitution intervened portraying the somewhat sociopathic six times killer as an almost innocent victim of a justice system biased against women. To death penalty advocates, she was a convenient embodiment of evil to use to demonstrate the justice executions supposedly serve. Everyone, probably including Jenkins herself, seems to have their own Aileen Wuornos around, a canvas to settle an argument or prove a point.
Wuornos wasn't simply a "highway prostitute" as described by the movie, she also took part in a variety of crimes before meeting her partner three years before Mallory's 1989 death; she even served prison time in 1981 for an armed robbery. Wuornos's claim that the killing of Mallory was self defense was initially met with skepticism, but with Mallory's record - never revealed to the Jury and involving a ten year sentence for a violent rape - and with inconsistencies in her original, dark and unhinged, explanations for the death, it's possible that Mallory did indeed attack her. But it's also hard to believe that the need to kill, in self defense, arose six times in the space of a year.
It is believable that, as Jenkins describes, a defensive killing during a horrific attack may push a very insecure, amoral, and frustrated woman over the edge. In this respect, regardless of the specifics of the Wuornos case, Jenkins has made a believable and informative film about human character and the choices we make. Whether it is an accurate portrayal of Wuornos though is something that can only be answered by seven people no longer alive to tell us.
The story may not be historically accurate, but it doesn't matter. A powerful performance, well paced script, and decent direction makes this a compelling and thought-provoking film. Well worth seeing.

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