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Charles W.

Charles W.

Joined on 03/03/06

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 14
Most Favorable Review

As easy to set up as they claim

Securifi Almond Touchscreen Wireless N300 Router / Range Extender (3 Minute Setup)
Securifi Almond Touchscreen Wireless N300 Router / Range Extender (3 Minute Setup)

Pros: 1. very small 2. great "wow" factor 3. easy to get working (at least as a Wi-Fi extender)

Cons: The firmware for the unit you purchase may be too old for it to do updates directly via the internet, in which case you have to go to the Securifi website, download the latest firmware, and install it via the unit's web interface (requires only pointing the web interface to the downloaded file - takes about a minute, so it's actually pretty painless)

Overall Review: I am using the Almond as a Wi-Fi extender, and analysis software indicates it has doubled the signal strength in the part of the house where I needed it. The new firmware should allow updates directly from the internet. It definitely allows setting the SSID to be anything you want, including the same SSID as your wireless access point (the wireless tab on the unit's display allows you to change the SSID). In addition to interface improvements, the new firmware includes beta versions for time sync and weather, both of which worked perfectly for me. Initial setup was less than 5 minutes, and the firmware update in my case took about another 15. That's about as easy as it gets.

11/29/2012
Most Critical Review

Followup ... still not great but not as bad as I thought

Floureon G1W 2.7 inch 1080P Full HD Car DVR Camcorder - With Novatek Chip, 4X Digital Zoom 120° Angle, Reachargeable Lithium Battery, 12.0MP Image Resolution, 5.0MP COMS - Black
Floureon G1W 2.7 inch 1080P Full HD Car DVR Camcorder - With Novatek Chip, 4X Digital Zoom 120° Angle, Reachargeable Lithium Battery, 12.0MP Image Resolution, 5.0MP COMS - Black

Pros: Same as for prior review.

Cons: Those in prior review still stand but not as serious as I first assumed.

Overall Review: I'm posting this as an addendum to my earlier review out of fairness. While my criticisms still pertain, I can now at least report that by increasing the loop segment length to 3 minutes it seems to work OK on the car charger (it didn't cut out during a 2 hour drive). My experience with it cutting out so easily before still would make me queasy about relying on it, but I'm willing to raise my rating to 2 stars (3 for this addendum to balance the 1 for the original).

Sweet system

Zotac ZBOX-ID83-P Intel Core i3 3120M, 4GB RAM, 500G HDD, Intel HD4000 Graphics integrated by CPU, Mini PC
Zotac ZBOX-ID83-P Intel Core i3 3120M, 4GB RAM, 500G HDD, Intel HD4000 Graphics integrated by CPU, Mini PC

Pros: 1) extremely compact size with lots of connectivity 2) less than 5 minutes to pop in memory and hard disk 3) 6.4 on the Windows experience index (Win 7) 4) VESA compliant mount option 5) excellent stand for vertical mount 6) can replace a much, much larger desktop

Cons: 1) needed to take lid off case to install antenna 2) CPU already installed, but it's a good one so not necessarily a con

Overall Review: Overall far better than I expected. Size-wise it is not much more so than a paperback book. You have to supply both memory and hard disk. For my unit I installed 8Gb of DDR3 memory (Crucial 4GB x 2) and a 250Gb SSD (Samsung). Max memory is 16Gb. If you already have monitor, keyboard, and mouse, you are getting a full-fledged, tiny, and powerful system for your investment (in my case, about $600). You will also need a USB DVD drive for installing the OS and drivers (drivers are supplied on DVD for Win 7 and 8). The system has 4 USB2 ports, 2 USB3 ports, HDMI and DVI monitor ports, ethernet port, and even an S/PDIF optical port. Wireless and blue tooth are also built in. Physically the unit is mounted on a metal framework with aesthetically pleasing heavy gauge plastic top and bottom. Remove two thumb screws, slide off the case cover, pop In the memory, release the retention screw for the hard drive and insert, reassemble, and it's ready for OS install. It takes longer to get the stuff out of their boxes than to complete the assembly. An IR remote and USB dongle are supplied if your intention is to control it from a distance - I haven't tried that particular feature. The lid of the unit has a large "signature" circle on it that lights as a soft blue, a "feature" that is easily disabled in the ROM BIOS. In initial software installation, stick to the USB2 ports for DVD, keyboard, and mouse, as the USB3 ports require a driver, and you won't have USB3 drivers until you have an OS in place. It's potent enough to run just about any app, gaming excepted.

Do your own testing

G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9Q-16GAO
G.SKILL Ares Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9Q-16GAO

Pros: nice looking heat sink

Cons: Don't trust G.Skill's testing (memtest86+ verified 1 of the 4 modules was bad). I have two beefs: 1) G.Skill's "hand-testing" evidently means a very quick read/write check and no stress testing. 2) Yes, the memory has a life-time warranty, but G.Skill wants all 4 modules RMA'd, which would leave you with a down machine for a number of weeks. I should only be expected to RMA the bad module for G.Skill to verify my testing ... if they don't think a single module replacement will play nice with the other 3, then they should send a new 4 pack and have me send back the other 3 at that point. It's also worth relating that I have a friend who recently had a similar experience to mine with G.Skill memory (different kind of modules), so I don't think I will be using G.Skill memory again.

Overall Review: Stress testing installed memory takes a good bit of time, so you would hope you could trust the manufacturer to be almost 100% trustworthy, but I have two cases in hand of failed G.Sink memory in my own little universe, which says this may be a characteristic of this company's memory. I am particularly put out because of the time lost to ferreting out the fact a memory module was bad . I installed this memory on a new build (ASUS mb) and all was fine initially, so I proceeded to put in Win 7/64. About 2 weeks in BSOD while in sleep mode. From that point, the problem sporadically recurred. Memory was the last thing I suspected - so I messed with the more likely suspects: BIOS settings, graphics and other drivers, and a virus attack. It takes a lot of time to rule out that kind of stuff. It's obvious now that the bad module was causing the occasional BSOD. Believe me, the next time I build a system, I will take the time to do my own memory stress testing (memtest86+ is freeware - very easy to setup and use - just let it run overnight).

Price/performance is tops

Rosewill Brown / Gold Canal High Fidelity Passive Noise Isolating Rosewood Earbuds - RHTS-11002
Rosewill Brown / Gold Canal High Fidelity Passive Noise Isolating Rosewood Earbuds - RHTS-11002

Pros: 1. Very low price point (at least on Black Friday) 2. Good sound quality 3. Comfortable 4. Stylish, with 3 different sizes of easily installed ear pieces

Cons: 1. Plug was initially a bit tight for my Kindle Fire HD (minor) 2. Passive noise isolation

Overall Review: I'm listening to Rachmaninoff #2 Piano Concerto on my Kindle Fire HD while writing this and am happy to report the thundering piano base chords are there along with a crisp orchestral accompaniment (way better than the Kindle speakers, which are actually pretty good for their size). The sound quality is surprisingly good, and classical music is pretty good at finding shortcomings. I'll be trying these on my next airplane trip, but suspect passive noise isolation won't match what my active isolation ear phones achieve. Of the three ear pieces supplied, I have to use the largest, and it's a good secure fit. I don't normally use ear buds since they tend to bother my ear canals, but these are OK, the most comfortable ones I've used to date.

11/23/2012

More to it than meets the eye

Tresanti KC7005-T401-42 Summerville Kitchen Island White
Tresanti KC7005-T401-42 Summerville Kitchen Island White

Pros: Nicely finished solid wood butcher block top, casters hidden by molding, cabinet doors on all four sides with Euro style hinges, drawers slide out on wood rails from either side, a silverware tray (all wood) is included for one drawer, a spice rack (angled wood racks) for the other, one adjustable shelf in each cabinet, center vertical drawer is on rails and has 3 bins, center one adjustable. There is also a towel rack on one end. The island looks great from both sides, with the only difference between sides being that the center drawer only pulls out one way. The unit is made from a mix of wood, MDF, and manufactured wood, painted with a white enamel, making touching up easy. The assembly kit comes in a blister pack with all parts sorted and clearly labeled to match the directions - a hex wrench is supplied for those connectors that require it. A small tube of touch up enamel and a nice cutting board are also included. The hardware used is excellent throughout and includes very nice drawer pulls. There is more to this island than can be determined from its picture (the manufacturer has a few more views). All in all, the overall design is superior.

Cons: While assembly is straight forward, the doors require 8 screws each (32 in all) to attach the pre-installed hinges to the frame - there are snap together hinges of the same Euro style, so while not a design flaw, this makes assembly more tedious. The directions are not clear enough on the vertical drawer assembly, since the rails will go in one way but the parts can be reversed (I had to do an undo on this step), and have to be pushed in hard to fully seat. The use of formed molding (MDF?) around the perimeter is a potential damage point if there is any rough handling. There are more identification stickers than necessary on the parts and removing them leaves a residue that has to be removed with a solvent. There is a particularly obnoxious, large label on the top warning that it is not intended to be used as a cutting board, particularly hard to remove without damaging the surface (we used Goo Gone). The horizontal drawers need to be lubed with something like lithium grease or soap to slide smoothly. There are several different connection mechanisms employed, one of which is cam lock screws (common to a lot of assemble it yourself furniture) - I found these required a lot of muscle to get them turned enough to lock.

Overall Review: My wife looked at a lot of islands before settling on this one, even taping out the different footprints for each on the kitchen floor. The natural wood with white paint was a major factor in her decision since it matches our current kitchen decor. Length was another. If we redo our kitchen, the fact this is painted will make it easy to conform it to any new design. In theory the assembly only requires the supplied hex wrench and a Phillips head screw driver. My take is that you will actually need 3 Phillips head drivers (small, medium, and large), at least I did. One last point, we were a bit concerned about ordering this particular model given the review that reported significant shipping/factory damage and our unit would have to travel across the entire country. The carton has labels on it including fragile, do not drop, etc and our shipper (AIT) evidently paid attention since there was absolutely no shipping damage (there is a lot of styrofoam padding, sufficient to protect from a forklift gouge on the bottom of the carton). There was one small blemish from the factory, easily hidden using the supplied touch up paint.

10/26/2012