Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cellet Retractable Plug In Car Charger for Apple iPhone 3 3GS 4 4S, iPod Touch, Nano, (Made for iPhone, Licensed by Apple)

This is a review of the Cellet Retractable Plug In Car Charger for Apple iPhone 3 3GS 4 4S, iPod Touch, Nano

Purchased on Amazon for $7.80

The Good:
Blue LED light (night light for the car at night)
Retractable cord

The Bad:
Large in size
Cuts off audio when charging

With my Iphone being over 4 years old, it has a very short battery life. I need a good car charger for the phone. I have it connected into my 2002 Nissan Pathfinder. It is rather large for the job it does. The shifter almost hits it in the park position. 

I inverted the charger which acts like a nightlight during driving at night. The retractable cord is a nice feature that keeps things nice an neat. My main issue with the charger is that it cuts out the audio when it is charging. I have other chargers that plays the audio while it is charger. I'm sure why this company decided that you shouldn't hear anything while it is charging. It is technically bad for the battery to use the phone while it is charging but who doesn't use the phone while it is charging??


This is a review of the Marantz SR8001 THX Select2 Dolby Digital Surround Sound Receiver

This receiver came out in late 2007 but was available to the public in 2008. Original MSRP was $1999 in 2008. You could have picked one up for about $1400 from most internet stores like Amazon.

The Good:
Awesome sound
Famous Marantz build quality
Easy to program remote
Duel HDMI outputs
Easy setup and configuration

The Bad: 
Auto calibration off on some settings
1.2 HDMI output but 1.1 HDMI inputs
RS232C not gold plated and will rust in high humidity
Old fashion on screen menu 

It comes with a silver finish as well but I think the black is much better looking. I had a silver receiver and it was great when it came out because it was "different" but the black just looks much better and is ageless. Plus it doesn't show the finger marks. With that being said, I was a little disappointed with the finish on this unit. It has a high gloss finish that does show the finger marks easily. It wipes away easily as well but with this range receiver and it being a Marantz, I expected better. Of course, you really don't buy a receiver based on how it shows finger prints. Where it counts, this receiver does shine.  

 Setup was very easy for this 7.1 receiver. The instructions were straight forward and once you understood their acronyms on the remote, everything came together. The instructions were only 70 pages which shows that they thought a lot of things through and made things as simple as possible. Nothing worse then an receiver that comes with a 140 page manual that takes a weekend to set up.

It comes with a great microphone that will automatically calibrate your speakers both in position and tone. It does need to be very quiet when you are setting up their automatic calibration feature. The mic is that sensitive. You connect the mic from the front panel and choose auto calibrate and that's it. You have to position the mic in six different places. The first position should be your main listening position and the next 5 are other seating arrangements. Once that is done, it does take some time to calculate everything for your setup; about 5 minutes. If you do it again, it takes a shorter time.

You can review the settings once it is completed and make manual adjustments which I did need to do. I thought the auto calibration settings were very bright. I had to increase to base and change the equalizer settings to some of the speakers. I also raise the crossover frequency. It detected my left and right as small. Maybe they are small according to Marantz's standards but I got much better deep sound when I switched them to large.  I have them hooked up to the Atlantic Technology 350THX 5.1 speakers and I added two bookshelf Pioneer speakers that I had from an old system. It calibrated each speaker accordingly and was very close to my listening preferences.

It did calibrate more on my left front speaker and had to adjust it so the image sound was more centered. This could be due to the configuration of my room. I do like the fact it will let you adjust all the settings manually. Their auto calibration is a great place to start your customization for your home theater.

It comes with two 1.2 HDMI outputs and 4 1.1 HDMI inputs. I don't understand why Marantz did this. It doesn't make any sense to me why the outputs are 1.2 when you can only input 1.1. The duel outputs are a great bonus for when you have two sources like a overhead projector and a TV in the same room. They cannot be used to duel output at the same time.

The remote is nice but a little outdated. It is very easy to navigate and program. It accepted all program signals including the Xbox 360 remote signals. One thing I do not like is the fact that the LCD screen on the remote stays on constantly. Why?? This drains the batteries. I guess they thought you need those buttons. They should have put in a feature to timeout the LCD screen on the remote. This is really a minor grip since the sound quality is really nice.

They do need to update their onscreen menu. I felt like I was looking at an old DOS screen. Big bulky block  white letters on a blue background screen. They should look at Sony and Yamaha to see how onscreen menus are done.

Most of the connections are gold plated so they won't corrode but the RS232C is not. It will rust if it kept in a humid room for an extended amount of time. I guess Marantz didn't want to spend more money to gold plate it.

Technical Features:

Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 Review

This is a review of the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with built-in multi-touch touchpad. It was purchased from Amazon for $29.99.

The Good:
Great range
Sensitive and responsive
On/Off switch
Good size keys and touch pad
Customizable and basic set of standard buttons
Uses standard drivers for PC

The Bad:
Slightly larger in size (than a mini keypad)
No lit keys option
Small space bar

I wanted a keyboard for the computer I have hooked up to my tv. I looked at the mini-keyboard but they bad reviews. I wanted a larger keyboard for my fat fingers. The mini keyboards were the size of a smart phone and I always misspell words with my fingers and I couldn't imagine a touchpad would be great on that size.

They offer the keyboard in black or white. I chose the white since white keyboards show the dirt more prominently than a black one. This is a great size keyboard. It is much larger than a mini keyboard which makes it more difficult to store and can be clumsy at times. It is very light and can be held in one hand for while before your hand gets tired.

A great feature that comes with the keyboard is a usb extender. This is great for my old Dell that I have hooked up with to the TV. It will provide you with maximum range for the wireless keyboard. I have tested the range and is about 35feet with line of sight. It drops significantly through walls which is about 5ft.

I really like the fact that it has an on/off switch on the keyboard itself. This saves battery life for when it is not in use, which is most of the time. The touchpad is sensitive enough and works well. I recommend increasing the sensitivity on the mouse option to very fast so that it travels a great distance on a TV. I have it connected to a 40 inch TV and have the mouse setting on the fastest speed. It works very well and is accurate. 

I would recommend this over a mini keyboard which is too small for my fingers. It took the standard Windows drivers which is great for connecting them to other computers. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


This movie was terrible. I'm a big fan of Matt Damon but this was a dud. It was the same director of District 9 so he copied a lot of same elements. Basically this movie is a bad, more Hollywood, bigger budget version of District 9. Instead of aliens it was a lower class of people.
You can tell the director was a Halo fan because he stole a lot of elements from the game from the Halo rings all the way to the personal bubble shield.

There was so much camera shaking that it was difficult to enjoy the movie sometimes. The characters were flat and one dimensional. There is not much else to say other that the movie was a waste of time and money. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hi Headrest insert for iPad

This is a review for a headrest insert for the iPad. It's made for an iPad but I'm using it for a touchpad which has exact same physical specs as the iPad. It was purchased from amazon.

They did not use high quality materials for this product. The plastic feels cheap and flimsy and probably won't last a few falls.

It has a strap that you can wrap around the headrest. You can do it vertically or horizontally which is nice to accommodate your head rest. All the ports for your iPad or Touchpad have openings.

It serves the purpose but it won't last long due to the poor quality materials. 

Fluval C4 & C2 filter

This is a review of the Fluval C4 and C2 hang on the back filter. I am using them for fresh water only. The C4 is going onto a 37gallon bow front tank and the C2 will go on a 5 gallon tank. The pictures of the filter is the smaller C2.

They are both identical in terms of mechanism for filtration the only difference being the amount of water they process. The C2 is rated for up to 10 gallon tank and the C4 up to 55 gallon . I believe over filtration is better because it will keep the tank cleaner and your changeable media will last longer. 
I have been using the C4 for 7 months before I had to clean out the bio screen pictured below.

Fluval has done a very good job designing the filter. Each section is compartmentalism for easy maintenance and changes. The bio screen section above pops out and can be easily cleaned.

A little red knob will pop up when the filter is dirty and needs to be cleaned. It comes up when there is enough resistance against the filter and the water level rises to float the indicator. Very smart design. I have owned penguins in the last and this is the only hanging over the back I will buy. 

The section in front of the bio filter holds the ceramic spikes for your wet/dry portion for optimal bacteria. 

This part comes put easily for maintenance. 

Under this section is a red plastic container that will hold your carbon. The filter comes with very small carbon pieces for maximum surface area. When I need to change the carbon, I will probably use larger carbon refills because they are cheaper.

After 7 months of use, I have had to clean the bio filter once and the carbon once. It is quiet but not completely quiet. The vibration from the impeller motor does make a small hum noise from the lid part of wet/dry media. If you tape it down it will decrease the noise. I have noticed this on both the C2 and C4. It's a small issue with their fit and finish of the plastic parts. 


Another nice feature is the intake nozzle is a once piece adjustable. Other hang on the back comes in two pieces. Over time I have lost them and could not find them when switching to a new tank. 


This to me is the best hang on the back filter you can get. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

MAG-FLOAT floating aquarium cleaner

This is a small magnetic tank cleaner for an aquarium. I chose a small one because I would keep this in the tank and didn't want a big magnet hiding the view of the tank.

I bought it from Amazon for a good price and bought other items to get free shipping. 
The cleaner side (part in the tank) does a fair job or getting rid of the brown algae build-up. You do have to go over the same spot 3-4 times in order to remove it completely. The magnetic bond is strong and works well even with a curved tank. 
It's been in the tank for 4 months straight and still performs well for a 37 gallon tank. If you have a larger tank, I would recommend the larger size. 

Harbinger Lifting Gloves

These gloves were made for lifting that protects your palms but leaves your fingers open for better grip. I'm using these gloves to run in a tough mudder race in October.
The price is right and I got the closest fit. They only had three sizes so I chose the fit that was snug. 

Material quality is fair. Mostly canvas and some synthetic leather. It does seem like there is a bit too much padding on the palm. I think with repeated use this will be a nonfactor. 

The over hand strap has a solid feel and stays in place. We'll see how it holds up to the mud and water during a tough mudder race.

After Race update:
 These gloves worked well. I would recommend the open finger type. It will give you better grip and feel for when you are doing a Tough Mudder racer. There were just a tab big for my hands so they slipped around a little bit. I did not have the need to readjust them and they dried quickly. They cleaned well and are ready for another race. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

EVGA GeForce GTX 760

I've been waiting to buy a video card for my computer for over a year. I have three monitors and wanted something that would be able to display all three without having to buy two video cards. I wanted to stay with Nvidia because I already had a Nvidia card and didn't want to clean out all files associated with going with an ATI card. (There are many files that are left when you uninstall via control panel. You need a special program to clean out all files). I wanted a card for its longevity in terms of build quality and compatibility. I use my computer as a media server for my whole house so it is on all the time. It needed to be quiet because my computer is only two feet away from me and I didn't want a loud computer. 
 I was going to buy the MSI 660Ti Power Edition. It had the twin frozr design for good air flow and kept the GPU cool. It had a great feature that reversed the fan blades at start up to remove dust. It wasn't the quietest one but was willing to deal with it since it met all my other requirements. Plus, it had a blue color design and had blue LEDS which matched my blue HAF932 Cooler Master Box.   When I first targeted this card it was $330 which was above my target price range. I waited for the price to come down as all cards do. I waited and waited and waited some more, seven months total!
Newegg had the card for $269 plus a $10 rebate which almost hit my price of $250. I didn't pull the trigger. I figured, "Hey, it just dropped this much maybe I can get it for less than $250."
They sold out in less than 12 hours. When Newegg got more about three weeks later, they wanted $280. 
During that time, Nvidia came out the Titan and then a month later came out with the GTX 760. I did not take it as aconquincedence  that the price for it was exactly my price point of $250. I was again looking at the MSI version but now they changed the color to red and I couldn't have a RED card in my BLUE case. 
I did a lot of research on EVGA and their ACX twin fan design. I had a EVGA currently in my box and it is still going strong so they had the build quality. I had for three years. The guy I bought it from bought it used from another guy. I did read they usually ran hot but that usually just applied to their reference build cards. The ACX fan design are well regarded for their cooling ability and being very quiet. The 760GTX with the ACX was not a reference design. I was going to buy from Newegg buy they wanted to charge $5.64 for shipping. Amazon had free shipping. 
Amazon had sold out of this card in 1 day. I kept checking back and when it was available, they sold out again in less than six hours. I was finally able to find a time when they had them in stock and they only had one left. I ordered it on a Friday morning and received it 11 days later. (What do you expect for free shipping?)

Outside box

Inside packaging and contents. 

It comes with power adapters to hook up your existing power supply connections to meet the requirements for this card. You'll need two 3 pin connectors and two 4 prong connectors. Minimally you need 50 watts on a 12 volt rail. They also throw in a DVI-D to VGA adaptor. 

Installation was a breeze. It will take up two slots because of the size. 

The 760GTX is a another Nvidia card rebranded. They took an older GPU, made some tweaks and gave it a new name and badge. It's the same chip they use in the 680, the GK104-255 A2. It has a little bit slower clock frequencies that the 680 GTX. The 760 comes higher frequency boost clock. 

I kept the airflow tunnel that came with the case to better direct the airflow. The fit is very close but it still works. I did have one concern as one review said the the fan blades push the air inward toward the GPU and thus the air would come out at both ends. I'm not sure if this is the case but will test it later. I moved my SDD down a slot so that if this was true the hot exhaust would not blow directly on the SDD. 

You can see there are air vents above each DVI connection. 

The three monitor setup is a dream. Do not use the DVI to VGA adapter. It will make the edges soft to whichever monitor you use it on. I noticed it on mine because I am using IPS monitors. I used a DVI to HDMI cable. The DVI-D plug fit into the DVI-A slot on the video card. 

My setup

I do plan on getting ultramon so that I can have the same picture going across the entire screen.

After 1 month of using the card, I heard an intermittent quick rat-tat-tat noise. I found out through the forums that it is coil whine. Does not affect the card but I do not like it. I contacted EVGA and they set up an exchange for the card which I will be doing. I'll update the post once I have the new, new card installed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Carl Jung

I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become. ~Carl Jung

Monday, July 8, 2013

Xbox 360 S(Slim) with 250HD

This review is for the Xbox 360 Slim with the 250 gig hard drive. I realize they just announced the arrival of the Xbox one (can Microsoft count? Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One) but the specs for the Xbox one was not impressive. They are similar to the best graphics card and pc gaming rig of LAST year! Plus I don't want a kinect and don't want to pay extra for it. I think MS will lower the price on the Xbox one in about 3 years depending on sales.
I decided to go with the Xbox 360 because of the many features and it looks like the way they are pricing the Xbox one, they will keep the 360 around for a while (budget Xbox one).
I wanted to play old Xbox games so I made sure I got the one with an MS hard drive. Xbox one, to date will not play original Xbox games.
NOTE: if you buy an aftermarket hd for the Xbox 360 slim, it will not play original Xbox games. You have to get the one sold by MS.

If this is not important for you, then buy an Xbox slim for less then $180 on Amazon (wait for a sale) then buy an after market hd.

I bought mine on Amazon for $279. It came with two games, one one disc (DarkRiders 2) and one downloadable one (Batman). One month of Xbox Gold Live, headset, composite RCA hookups and the power brick. The old Xbox 360 power brick is NOT compatible. The old 360 audio video hook up IS.

Since my old tv does not have HDMI, I am using the HD component hook up with optical digital out.
The slim does have a separate optical out but everything works if you use the old 360 av hookup.
The best part of the slim vs. the old 360 is that it is much, much quieter. Load times are much faster and it runs about 10-20C cooler.

The controller it came with have been refreshed cosmetically with new colors. Chrome xbox button and the stick are black rubber instead of the grey.
My last 360 lasted about 6 years with moderate use. I'm hoping MS has learned from their mistakes and this one last twice as the old one.

9 year old review:

One thing I liked about the Xbox 360 was that it came with one game, Marvel Superheros and I like Marvel. The new Xbox came with DarkRiders II and I don't like DarkRiders II.
I liked it was black and I like the color black. I didn't like how long it took to set up.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pandamimi Black Luxury Steel Aluminum Chrome Hard Back Case Cover Review

This is a review for case for the iphone 4S. It was purchased through Amazon here

The case comes with a pair of protective covers for the iphone and a mini stylus. The stylus works but not really useful for me. I did put the protective covers on the phone but the one for the front of the phone is a matte finish not a clear finish.

The phone case does fit into the phone tightly and offers it a little protection. Make no mistake, this is not a rugged protective case. It was only meant as a holder.

This is only after 2 drops.

The case will only last a few drops the most. It does look nice but the high finish plastic does scratch easily. The black part remains in tact but the overall case can not handle drops at all.

I would recommend this case only if you don't drop your phone. It just protects it from scratches and not much else. 

Review of Alessi Michael Graves Kettle with Small Bird Shaped Whistle

It was bought on amazon here

I was looking for a really heavy duty kettle to use. I had one from XOXO company and it was fine until the lid started to rust. I came upon a kettle on amazon that was highly recommended. 
It is very solid and constructed well. It does say it is 18/10 stainless steel. It looks very nice and comes in a blue or black handle. 

I chose the ivory handle one as it goes better with the dark counter tops I have. The finish is done well and the construction is solid. The seems are welding and sanded very nicely and overall, the kettle is very nice.

The handle is fixed. I think actually like this feature. It won't swing on you when it is really hot plus there are less moving parts to break.

There is just one thing I am really disappointed in was the whistle part of the kettle. It's a deal breaker for me but if you're going to pay $170 plus on a kettle, everything should be perfect. The whistle is plastic!! Plus the metal part in the whistle is not stainless. You can tell that it will break because you also by replacement whistle for it. 

You also have to remove it in order to pour the water out of the kettle! This seems like a bad design. Granted if it was hinged it would more likely break and cause burns. I don't think removing it while it has boiling hot water is any better though. They should have just not had that feature and charged less for the kettle. 

I will have to see how it holds up to use over the next few months. I don't think I will have issues with the kettle itself, but I can see myself throwing the whistle part away in a few weeks

Update 7July 2013

I am very disappointed to say this kettle is crap! The spout started to rust after just a few months of light use. For a kettle to cost this much and have it rust is an outrage. Of course it is beyond the return time period of Amazon so the only recourse I have is through the manufacturer. Even still, I am mad that an almost $200 kettle would be so poorly made out of crappy material that it would rust so quickly. This is not a product worth buying.