Showing posts with label Electronics Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Electronics Reviews. Show all posts

Monday, August 27, 2018

Saving Money with the Insignia Roku 32" LED TV

Just a few viewing options on my Insignia Roku TV.
My television stopped working and couldn't be repaired. It was a sad day that sent me out looking for a replacement. My #1 criteria while looking for a replacement TV was expense. I wanted to spend as little as possible. Fortunately, I found the Insignia Roku 32" LED television.  The out-of-pocket price tag was slightly higher than I wanted to pay but in the long run, I'll continue to have significant savings because I'm refusing to buy cable or dish services at this point in my life. I've had this Insignia TV for almost a month now and I'm loving it. If you are looking to stop making yourself cable-poor, this may be an option that works well for you too.


Insignia 32" Roku LED Television



I window-shopped at several stores, looking to buy a television at $100 or less. Then I found the Insignia Roku 32" LED TV at Best Buy. I thought about it for a bit and asked around.  

With this television, I could continue to watch via antenna (which is my preference, and why I thought I'd get a TV for under $100).

Also, with this television, I could watch my Sling channels and YouTube.

I could also watch Roku, which my son keep telling me to check into.

The official features of the TV are listed as:
  • Roku Smart TV - access to stream 500,000+ movies/television shows.
  • 31.5" screen - measured diagonally from corner to corner.
  • 720p resolution for quality HD images
  • LED tvs perform well in all lighting conditions and provide rich colors.
  • Built-in Roku smart platform (ability to stream from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Plus, or choose from 3,000 other streaming channels
  • Two 8w speakers
  • 3 HDMI inputs (cable not included)


I unboxed the TV and attached the legs. I plugged it in and attached my antenna. The television prompted me to connect my Wifi.  I also easily followed those prompts to add my existing Sling TV account, Amazon prime video library, and YouTube channel. 

Because the Roku TV has so many viewing options, I find it slightly cumbersome to remember to toggle from the two menus (the one on the left of the screen that lists things such as: home, My Feed, Search, Settings, and more) to the visual menu on the right that lists such things as: AV, Antenna TV, Netflix, Prime Video, Sling, YouTube, and etc. But that is a mild annoyance, and something I am becoming accustomed to. And an exceedingly small price to pay for a huge amount of free (or nearly free) entertainment.

I gotta tell you, I LOVE watching my YouTube crochet tutorials on the television screen. I could sit all day and watch the DIY channel on Sling. And what fun to watch my Amazon prime movies on a screen bigger than my laptop screen!


Antenna TV


Except for a 2 year (approximately) period of time that I gave cable a second chance - a chance to redeem themselves and a chance they squandered, I have watched television via the channels broadcast over the air. To do this, I use a little antenna that screws in to the back of the TV. Easy peasy and free local channels. 
Sling TV.

This indoor antenna is the new and improved version of the antenna I've used for the past few years. 




Verizon Jetpack



The least expensive internet connection that I have found, and that suits nearly all my needs, is the Jetpack by Verizon. It is a portable, mobile hotspot device that I use at home or when I travel. The "unlimited" data isn't fully unlimited. I do have internet connection for the entire month but if I do a lot of streaming, after a certain point I experience "bandwidth throttling". Which means they set me at slower speeds. It is occasionally annoying but not enough to cause me to purchase one of the other packages.

Unfortunately, my Verizon Jetpack does NOT work while I'm at The Shack. Hopefully, by the time I relocate, Verizon has stepped up and provides service in that area. Otherwise, I'll have to figure something else out. 

I'd hate to make changes since this set-up is working so well. But I have some time to figure it out. 


Sling Tv


Fortunately, Sylvestermouse Cynthia introduced me to Sling via her review Get Rid of Cable TV and Still Have Live Major Network TV with Sling TV in 2015. Since that time, I have been able to watch DIY, Hallmark, FYI, Food Network, Travel, Cooking, Disney, HGTV, and more on my laptop.

I pay a minimal monthly amount ($30) for Sling TV. I could pay less but it is "al carte" television and the channels I chose create the amount I pay. Now, with my Insignia Roku television, I can watch all of those channels on the television screen!

The savings by using Sling TV, other streaming entertainment options, and my Verizon Jetpack is significant (at least to me it is). When the cable company increased my monthly bill, it was approaching $150 a month.  In my current situation, I'm paying $30 a month for Sling TV and the Verizon Jetpack is a part of my phone bill which totals $110 a month. Cutting that cable bill saves my budget approximately $1,800/year. 


Related Link:


If I were not pinching every penny in order to rebuild The Shack, I would have chosen a better, bigger television. I would have chosen an HDTV. The quality of the picture is so much better.

Our Bev Owens reviewed her purchase, a Samsung MU6300 HDTV.  This would be a great television to own!  I love the colors and clarity of the picture on an HDTV.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Save Money with Powerextra Camera Batteries: A Review

Don't Miss That Perfect Shot Because of a Dead Camera Battery


Most of the time my photo walks take less than an hour. But sometimes I venture farther or stop to take more pictures than usual. That's when it really pays to have extra camera batteries. Here's why I bought my set of Powerextra batteries with chargers included.




It was a perfect day to walk by the Salinas River.  It was rainy season and the river was full. I decided to walk all the way to a bridge at least half a mile away. I knew that the river would be wider there and I could get a unique shot. It was a fairly warm day for spring, and the walk was longer than I usually take. (You can see highlights of the walk here.)

There I encountered many scenes I wanted to photograph as I walked toward the bridge. I got distracted by wildlife, signs of human activity, trees, shrubs, and, of course, the river itself. I had taken over a hundred photos, and I hadn't started with a fully charged camera. I hadn't expected to take so many photos.

I  was pretty hot and tired by the time I got to the bridge. I walked from the trail to street level to get on the bridge. Here's where my path approached the bridge.

Review of Powerextra Camera Batteries

I was almost to my goal. Once on the bridge, I took my first shot, the first of many I had planned, but not the special shot I had really wanted. And that's when my camera battery died. Along with my hopes of getting not only the other shots from the bridge, but also more shots I'd  been planning to get on the walk back to my car.

Choosing Extra Batteries


That night I decided it was time to buy some extra battery packs.  I can never predict how many photos I will want to take. Obviously I didn't correctly predict it for this walk. So I went right to Amazon as soon as I had time. My camera is a Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. See how I tested it when it was new.

When I looked up the replacement battery Canon made for my camera, the price blew me away. At $42.25 as I write this, it still blows me away. For just one battery! So I checked for alternatives. I discovered the Powerextra battery for my camera. And not just the battery, but a whole battery kit with two batteries and an extra charger for the house, as well as a car charger. For about one fourth of the price of one Canon battery!





Naturally I was suspicious! How could I get so much more for so much less? Oh! The Powerextra is made in China. But so is the camera and the Canon battery. Frugal as I am, I decided to buy the Powerextra kit and try it. I'd only lose about twelve dollars if the batteries didn't work. I could still purchase the Canon batteries if necessary. It was worth the risk. It paid off for me.

I have been using both the house charger and the batteries for over four months. They all work well. I can now have one battery charging and one extra in my camera bag so that I will always have a charged battery when I need one. I don't have to skimp on pictures for fear of losing power. And I won't have to miss the shot I want most.

 I have not yet tested the car charger because I haven't been on any drives long enough to try it out. I will add the results here after I do have the chance to test it.

I highly recommend the Powerextra batteries if you want to save money. They are available for most major brands and models of digital cameras. I think they offer great value for the price.








Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Reviewing Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Reading on the balcony with my new Kindle.
I received my new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader nearly two weeks ago and I'm loving it! I was very hesitant to upgrade as I don't like change and often have trouble figuring out new electronic devices. I started researching current e-reader options as my original Kindle (a Kindle Keyboard, remember those?) was starting to have some serious malfunctions after all these years. I felt forced to shop for a new e-reader before my old one just stopped working. I have to say that so far I'm very excited about my purchase. My new Kindle is awesome! I like it so much that I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

New 6" Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader 


My new Kindle has a 6" touchscreen. It is slightly smaller than my first Kindle, and easier to pack in a small bag or purse.

This Kindle has built-in lights - no need to buy a separate, external light.

My new Kindle is advertised as having a resolution of 300 ppi. Now, that doesn't mean a single thing to me except that it is easy to see that compared to my original e-reader, the images are GREAT.

I had briefly considered purchasing a Kindle Fire so that I could also read magazines and have color photos. But I'm really glad that I stuck with the Paperwhite for two main reasons: 
My eyes. I am already familiar with how easy Paperwhite technology is on my eyes in general, in the dark while camping, and there is no screen glare when outside during the day. Computer screens strain my eyes. The Paperwhite does not.
Awesome battery. I require the long-lasting battery life of the Kindle Paperwhite. I want to read everywhere I go. That includes camping at The Shack, hiking, and waiting for appointments. There's nothing worse then reaching for an electronic device with a dead battery.

The Kindle I chose:




There are only two things that I'm concerned about so far. Both have to do with the touch screen:
No Buttons. I miss the buttons on my Kindle Keyboard that turned the pages. However, I'm becoming accustomed to turning the pages by tapping the side of the screen. But so far, I still wish for those buttons to turn the pages.
Oops! What Language is That?!  When I unboxed my Kindle I plugged it in to charge and I put it in the cover I bought. During that process, I touched the touchscreen and voila, all of my display turned to a different language! I had the hardest time trying to find anything in the online owner's manual that helped me to visually find the language settings so that I could change it back to English. Finally, with a video review and a lot of guesswork, I was able to make the language change I needed. I think the online owners manual should have more visual aids to go along with the written instructions.

The awesome cover I chose:




My Love Affair with E-Readers


I was aghast when e-readers were first introduced. Who in their right might would want to replace their beloved books with an electronic device?! Oh the horror. You wouldn't be able to read your books outside, or while camping, or while at the beach. What a terrible invention.

Then my son surprised me with a Kindle (3rd generation I think).  I bought a lighted, leather cover to protect it and to help me read it while camping. And I fell in love. I replaced my hoard of books with a single small item. And I found that even at the beach, I just place my Kindle in a gallon sized baggie and it is protected from the sand. Much better than soggy, gritty books after a day at the beach!

The only thing I didn't like about that first Kindle was the images didn't translate very well. Books with maps or drawings didn't always show up well. Or were too small to be read.

I think Kindle e-readers are awesome. They allow me to read anywhere and anytime. I always have my entire library with me. And I'm sure there are plenty of functions that I am not even aware of that others would enjoy. If you've considered buying a new Kindle Paperwhite, I encourage you to do it. I think you'll be glad you did.


Postscript:

Each and every time I've considered updating my Kindle, I've thought of Susan Deppner. She was a Review This contributor and a friend to many. I thought of her as the best Kindle advisor there was. I did refer back to the Kindle Reviews she had written for guidance. 

Susan, you may be gone from this earth, but you are not forgotten. I know you'd be as excited about my purchase as I am.






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Google Play Gift Cards: the Preferred Gifts

Google Play gift card by mail
This review about the wildly popular Google Play gifts cards may be an odd review. After all, I've never used one and I'm not certain of everything they can purchase.  I can, however, swear to their popularity and the high demand for them with the teenagers I'm acquainted with. 

As a mom and a grandmom, I am very aware that over the years I give two types of gifts: first, the kind of gift I want the recipient to have (such as socks, coats, and gloves) and second, the kind of gift the recipient wants to receive. Google Play gift cards are gifts that are most definitely in that second category. I know this to be true from the students at work. And who better to recommend gifts for youngsters than the youngsters themselves?

Google Play Gift Cards


I watched a young man who was thrilled to have received a Google Play gift card. He said due to their popularity, they were always "sold out" when it was his turn in the school store. But not on this day. On this day he was able to obtain on. It was easy to see how ecstatic he was. It was like Christmas had arrived an entire month early.  Which made me decide to check into more about the gift cards.

These gift cards can purchase anything in the Google Store. This includes:

  • games
  • apps
  • movies & tv
  • music
  • books

Google Play Gift Card Tips


The Google Play gift cards cannot purchase actual items such as electronics and accessories. Think of the Google Play gift cards as money to be spent only in the Google Play Store. An adult friend told me that these cards can also be used to purchase extra levels or currency in certain games.

The students who like these cards are using them on their Android phones and on their tablets. 

Also, Google Play cards bought in the US are to be used in the US only (apologies to our international readers). The card I have shown is an actual gift card that will be mailed to a home address. Perfect for giving a tangible gift at Christmas. 

If you prefer instant gratification, there are Google Play "cards" available via a code that is purchased then emailed to you or the recipient and redeemed using that code. 

Google Play cards come in a variety of amounts. Check out Amazon for a variety of these cards.

Holiday Gift Guide 

Related Links:


Be sure to browse the Review This! holiday gift guide for a wide variety of gift ideas and recommendations from our writers. 

How many times have you been on the road during the holidays and have needed to recharge those electronics? Avoid that problem and make the long drives far more pleasant for the children and/or yourself with the DC to AC Power Inverter/Adapter for Cars recommended by Sylvestermouse Cynthia.

Photo attribution: CCO Creative Commons


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Samsung MU6300 HDTV Reviewed

Treat Yourself To A Quality Viewing Experience

before hdtv
Vintage TV image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Remember when we watched TV on a set similar to the one on the left? We actually have a set similar to it that we use as a TV stand for a flat screen television in our kitchen. Last week my husband and I decided to upgrade our main TV that was an LED flat screen to a larger sized HDTV. Oh my goodness, why did we wait so long?

If you are in the market for a new television, I can recommend a great one to consider. Now, I must admit that I was willing to settle for a lesser model but my husband convinced me to follow the old adage..."Go big or stay home". We differ in that respect. I am a little "cheap" when it comes to purchasing items. I want quality but am willing to get something that isn't necessarily the latest and greatest or newest shiny thing to save a few greenbacks for a rainy day. My husband on the other hand doesn't want to grab the brass ring; he would rather go for the gold one. (Why save money when you can spend it now?...is kind of his motto.) You can imagine our two views create a healthy discussion when it comes to purchasing a major item for our home. We usually compromise for something in the middle.

So, last week we agreed to get a new television for our living room. I agreed to get a larger screen and to get a high definition model. I also agreed that it should be a Smart TV. I had one in mind that I felt fit our budget; we just needed to go see one to make sure the quality of the picture was satisfactory. The model I had picked out was pretty awesome and if my darling hubby had not been along on the shopping excursion, I am sure he would have loved it. He was duly impressed with my selection until his wandering eyes spotted another one; a TV that was a few inches larger and instead of the 1080 pixels had 4K pixels. (I swear I think I heard angelic music coming from above and a light surrounded him! There might have been a little bit of drool slipping from his lips!) The next thing I knew the absolutely delightful salesclerk was bringing the box to the counter with the required HDMI cable and ringing up the sale. 

Arriving home (I'm still a little in shock at that point), I began to get the new HDTV set up for our viewing pleasure. It isn't that my hubby can't do this sort of thing, he just has less patience than me and doesn't think that reading instructions is a necessary step to bother with. That is another story for another day, however. Getting the Samsung MU6300 HDTV set-up was an extremely easy and painless process! The TV is so smart it actually does some of the steps for you and walks you seamlessly through the rest of it. I was impressed!

I did have a little trouble with the remote in the beginning. Being so used to just pressing a button to accomplish a task, it took me a little bit (and watching a video) to realize that the buttons for changing channels and the volume also move up and down. Pressing it in does one thing, pushing it up or down does something else. Once I got that down, it was smooth sailing!

We watch a lot of movies both from DVDs and streaming and I am here to tell you the quality of the picture on this television is amazing! The detail is absolutely incredible! You feel like you are in the room with the actors or the woods or whatever the location. I am really happy with my husband's choice! I was a tad upset until we watched the first program and then I realized that he was right. This is a much better TV for us and I am glad that we got it. I realize now that with the newer technology that this set offers; we won't have to replace it anytime soon.

If you are in the market for a new television, consider the Samsung MU6300 HDTV. I am pretty sure that you will not be disappointed.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Three Best Ways to Read Kindle Books

The three best ways to read Kindle books. Information and review from a long-time Kindle owner.
The author with her short-stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.

Most people who know me are aware of my Kindle obsession. I've had an Amazon Kindle e-reader since shortly after they first were introduced to the market in 2007 and I currently own a stack of Kindle readers and Fire tablets.

Back in 2007 it was easy to decide which Kindle to buy; there was just one model and it cost $399. But things have changed and now, with multiple models of both readers and tablets that go by the name "Kindle," it can be hard to determine which is best for you.

Maybe I can help. Let's review the various choices to determine the three best ways to read Kindle books. Hopefully this information will help you choose the device that will serve your needs the best.

The Best Way to Read Kindle Books: The Kindle Reader


In my opinion, the very best way to read a Kindle book is to use a dedicated Kindle reading device, i.e. a reader that is designed specifically for people who simply love to read books. The original 2007 e-reader, almost 10 years later, has evolved into four different models that range in price from around $80 to nearly $300. That's a huge difference in price, so it's important to understand the features of each model.

The goal of Amazon is to provide a screen that makes your brain believe you're reading a "real," paper page. Through the years, the clarity of the printed page, the resolution of the screen, and the available fonts and font sizes have improved greatly and, indeed, the screen really does mimic a high-quality paper page with its gray-scale e-ink. The size of the page itself is the same for each of the models too, six inches, a comfortable size to hold and similar to a "real" paperback book. Another feature of all the Kindle e-readers is that the pages are glare-free, again just like a real book.

The differences come in when we look at the additional features. The most obvious difference is that the screen of the bottom-of-the-line Kindle is not lit, which means that, just as with a paperback book, you can't read in the dark unless you have a separate light source. If you read with a lamp nearby or in the daylight, then there's not a problem. But if you like to read in bed or in a low-light environment, you definitely will appreciate the LED lighting that is built into the next three models. The Paperwhite has four easily-adjustable LEDs that work great in a range from very dim to somewhat bright. The Kindle Voyage has six LED lights with adaptive light sensors and the Kindle Oasis even tops that with 10 LEDs that automatically adjust the lighting to stay consistent if you move from one area to another.

Another feature that is important to me is the weight of the device. While a couple of ounces doesn't sound like much, it is much more comfortable on the hands and wrists to manipulate a lighter-weight reader. The weight really comes into count when we talk about the second best way to read Kindle books, the Amazon Fire tablets.

Second Best: Amazon Fire Tablets


Tablets are all the rage these days. The price point has dropped tremendously the last couple of years as the features and apps seem to multiple exponentially almost daily. While the dedicated Kindle reader is perfect for reading e-books that look like "real" books, Amazon's line of Fire tablets arrive ablaze with bright colors and populated with cool apps that many of us have come to depend on in our daily lives.

Since our topic today is reading books, I'll leave it up to you to explore all the apps and other features (movies, music, games, camera, etc.) available for as little as $50 (price subject to change) starting with the 7-inch Fire. If you have a smart phone you're probably familiar with how many of these features work. In fact, if you have an up-to-date smart phone that you're comfortable with and just want to add a comfortable reading capability, then I'd suggest sticking to your phone and moving on down to my third best choice for the reading app.

While we're here, though, let's talk about why you might actually want a Fire tablet for both reading and entertainment. The answer in a word is "color." If you like having colorful children's books at your fingertips, or perhaps you like comics or other heavily-illustrated books where color really does count, one of the seven, eight, or even the 10-inch Fire tablets might be a great choice for you.

I talked a lot above about the quality of the screen for reading on the Kindle Reader and mentioned the LED lighting capability of all but the low-end model. Perhaps the best part of that reading quality is that it's easy to read in any light source without glare. When we get to smart phones and tablets, we're talking about a totally different type of light which, most definitely does glare. Likely you've tried to take a picture in bright light and had a difficult (or impossible) time seeing what's on the view finder screen.  Or maybe you've tried to navigate a GPS program in bright light where, again, it's difficult to see. The bright LCD display on tablets and phones may be beautiful, and the Fire tablets have outstanding, high-definition displays, but glare definitely can be a problem. If you're reading indoors, no problem. Reading at the beach? While the function and screen layout of the "books" section on the Fire is excellent, you might wish you had a Kindle reader if you're simply in the mood for reading a good book.

Third Best: Free Kindle Reading Apps 


Keep in mind that third best doesn't mean "awful." In fact, the quality of the reading apps that Amazon supplies absolutely free to anyone, on most any device that you already own (PC, laptop, MAC, phone, tablet, etc.) is quite good. And the best part (did I mention this already?) is that the app is free. In other words, if you're looking for a totally free way to read Kindle books, the Amazon app on a device (or more than one) of your choosing is an excellent solution.

Now, don't misunderstand, this is a free way to read a book, not a way to get e-books for free. While plenty of Kindle books are available for free, where to find those is a topic for another day. For now, let me explain how to get the free app. It's easy as one, two, three:

  1. Go to the Free Kindle Reading Apps link in the Kindle store. (Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, but I'm sending you there for the free stuff.)
  2. Fill in the box with your email or mobile number, depending on where you want the app delivered. Click "send link."
  3. Follow the directions in the email that you'll receive almost instantly to download the executable file. Run the file and watch for the reading app to appear on your screen. All of the books you've already acquired for Kindle will be accessible from the app (as will the Kindle store). Simply access and download whichever book(s) you want to read.



In Summary


First, if you have a phone, laptop, or other device that you love, and if your budget is low, go with the free reading app to read books you already have without spending any money.

Second, if you want one device that includes just about any form of entertainment you can imagine, and especially if you want to watch movies or read books in color, decide whether the 7-inch, 8-inch, or 10-inch tablet best suits your fancy (and the size of your pocket or purse). Budget plays a role here, of course. Don't skip the 7-inch tablet because it's "cheap." I have one, use it every day for apps, and it's absolutely awesome. The only place "cheap" comes into play is in the price.

Third, if you truly love reading traditional books, indoors or outdoors, and you either already have a phone with apps or you don't really care about those, then I recommend choosing the best-equipped stand-alone Kindle reader that you can afford. I use my amazing Paperwhite because it has the lighted screen, but if I had a bigger budget I would buy the top-of-the-line Kindle Oasis. I love that it's thin and lightweight and that the cover (included) automatically boosts the device's battery power.

Clearly, after all these years I still love Amazon's e-book reading gadgets and recommend any of these devices and the app without reservation.

There are a few other Kindle features that I didn't have time to discuss. The links highlighted above provide comparison charts to make it easy for you to find detailed specifications. Then if you still have questions about which is the best way for you to read Kindle books, I'll do my best to answer your questions in the comment section below.

Happy e-reading!

~Susan
Read more of my reviews.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Kindle Fire HD8 Reviewed

To Think It Began As Just An E-Reader

kindle
Kindle Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com
Doing a review of the Kindle Fire HD has been done, I know. It is not exactly new to the market, I know that, too. The thing is, Amazon just keeps making it better as they go along.

Way back in 2009, I got my very first Kindle. It was the second generation of the e-reader that had taken the world by storm. I loved that little thing! At the time, it was state of the art and quite dependable. Of course, the only thing you could do was download books and read them but it was pretty danged awesome for many of us avid readers. 

Those original Kindles were limited when we look back. One could only download books sold by Amazon but there sure were plenty to choose from. There was no color options, just good old fashioned black text (unless you played with the options for a different color of text). 

After a few years, I did switch to a Nook. There was the ability to have color images and you could, if you knew what you were doing, download books from other sources besides Barnes and Noble. I have to admit, I wore that one out. I had re-charged it so much that the little piece that slipped into the port snapped off. 

By that time, I had a tablet and I could just download the app for both Barnes and Noble and Amazon and read to my heart's content from either site. The bonus was the tablet could surf the internet and all that great stuff. So, when the Nook crossed over the digital rainbow bridge; I saw no reason to replace it. That is until the on and off switch went wonky. Suffice it to say, I do use my devices a lot. They rarely sit idle on any given day.

So, what does a girl do when she finds that she needs a new device to continue to be able to read her books along with just about any other task she wants to do? This girl, took another look at Kindle. This girls is also extremely happy with her choice!

I knew that the Kindle had grown in leaps and bounds from that one I had 8 years ago but I had no idea just how much. I knew there were options of just getting an e-reader but after having had the tablet and its capabilities, I knew a Kindle Fire was my best option. I quickly discarded the option of the HD7 which just means the size of the screen. I thought that might be a little too small for me. I also knew that I did not need an HD10 because it would probably be bigger than I wanted. So, the 8 inch was my choice. I do love the size!

The big surprise was that with this latest generation, Alexa is built in. I have toyed with the idea of getting an Echo but just felt like it was something that was not really necessary. I have had so much fun playing with the Alexa feature on this tablet! Now, it is limited from the perspective that it is not always on waiting for a command. Actually, I like that better. In order to operate the function, I have to hold my finger on the Home button for a second and it comes on. Then, I just say, "Alexa", and whatever command I want. I like the privacy of it all. I also like that it is set-up so that without my personal code, no one can accidentally or on purpose order something that I did not authorize.

The battery life before it needs to be charged is really good. The HD quality of graphics and images is superb, at least a much better quality than on my old tablet. The speakers are good, I wouldn't say that they are superb but better than adequate for my needs.

I was also pleased at the pricing! Way back in 2009 we paid around $400 for my first Kindle. Now, with the specials that are easily found, I paid less than $100. Obviously, the price is something that changes often but right now, they are offering some great deals!

So, if you are looking at replacing your current tablet or gifting someone with one; I highly recommend considering one of the Kindle Fire HD's. I honestly think that you will not be even slightly disappointed. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Review of Amazon Echo Dot

Echo Dot Product Details

Amazon Echo Dot

My husband received an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas and we are having fun discovering all of the exciting features of this amazing little bit of technology.  The Echo Dot has all of the features of the larger Amazon Echo but with a smaller speaker and a smaller price.  Like the Amazon Echo, the Dot is a personal assistant that requires WiFi connection to connect to the cloud.  We found the Dot very easy to set up and we were using it in just a few minutes after we opened the package.

Fun with Alexa

The Dot answers to the name Alexa and you just say Alexa to ask questions, play games,  give commands or obtain information from the Dot. Here are some of the favorite ways we use our Dot.
  • "Alexa, Good Morning"  Our Dot is in our kitchen and each morning we go in and say Good Morning.  Alexa then gives us a bit of information for the day.  On January 20th she gave us interesting bits of information on the inauguration.  On Sunday she talked about the teams playing in the NFL playoffs.  Another day she announced that it was "National Hug Day" and encouraged us to give hugs for at least 10 seconds each.
  • "Alexa, what is the temperature?".  Alexa is always ready with the current forecast. If you want the forecast for another city, just ask and she will give that to you too.
  •  "Alexa, add milk to my shopping list. or Alexa, add clean basement to my to-do list."  Alexa keeps a running total of my shopping list and my to-do list.  When I am ready to do our grocery shopping the list is complete on my phone and I can just tick off the items as I put them in my cart.
  • "Alexa, play a song by the New Christy Ministrals".  Alexa takes requests for songs by genre, artist or a specific song.  I like to start off the morning by having her play an old Country Hymn like Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art.
  • "Alexa, Let's Play Jeopardy"  Each day Alexa has a new set of questions based on the categories of that day's Jeopardy program.  We have fun seeing how good we do each day.
  • "Alexa, turn on the bedroom lamp"  We have purchased some special plugs for two of our lamps and all we have to do is tell Alexa when we want to turn them on or off.  There are other devises that can also be purchased to work with the Dot such as thermostats and light switches.
  • "Alexa, tell me a joke"  Alexa has a whole list of corny jokes she will tell you.
This is just a small sampling of the many things Alexa can do for you.

More Features added Weekly

Each week I get an email telling us of new features that have been added to Alexa.  We have only just begun to explore all that can be done with the wonderful Amazon Echo Dot!



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Thursday, December 1, 2016

1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm Review

Let me tell you about the 1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm that we own and highly recommend to help keep individuals and families safe.

Give the Gift of Home Security for Less Than $20

A few years ago at Christmas, one of our thoughtful sons gave us the gift of a 1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm. Having lived here with us for most of his life, he was well aware that sometimes visitors made it all the way to the porch before we had any idea there was someone walking or even driving down our long, rather secluded driveway. What a great gift idea!

After using the alarm for just a short time, not only were we glad we had it, we knew that we never wanted to be without it. Let me tell you about this wireless driveway alarm that we still own, use every day, and highly recommend.

The brand name of the unit we own is 1byone (one by one) and the cost for the motion sensor detector and the receiver system is less than twenty dollars (currently $15.99 as I type this, price subject to change). Even adding the cost of the batteries needed to power the unit, the word "cheap" comes to mind, but I don't want to give you the idea that this is an inferior product as it certainly is not.

How Does the 1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm Work?


The driveway alarm's weatherproof motion sensor uses passive-infrared (PIR) technology. | ReviewThisReviews.com
On the left is a photo of the weatherproof motion sensor with its passive-infrared (PIR) technology mounted on a tree partway down our long driveway. When a car comes down the driveway, the unit senses both a change in temperature and motion, the light on the unit flashes as it sends a signal to the receiver inside the house, and both the alarm and the light on our unit give us a signal that we should take a look outside to see who or what has set off the alarm.

The driveway alarm's receiver with settings on the sides. | ReviewThisReviews.com
On the right are pictures of the receiver which we keep in a convenient spot on a counter where we can both see it and hear it. The unit is on and, as you can see in the photo on the bottom right, is set in the low volume chime mode. Trust me, "low" is plenty loud enough that we can hear it throughout our entire house. If we used the receiver outdoors, for instance if we moved it to the back porch while we were working in the garden, we might set it to make more noise. In some situations, we might turn off the audible signal altogether and just use the light.

In our situation, one sensor for the driveway and one receiver for the house are all we need. However, the device is expandable so that, if you have more than one driveway or area to cover, you can add on multiple sensors and/or receivers. One reviewer uses a set indoors, with the sensor in a child's bedroom and the receiver in the parents' room, so that they can tell if their toddler gets up during the night. Another reviewer uses a set by the back door so he'll know when the dogs are at the door, ready to come back in for the night. With some creative thinking, perhaps you'll come up with even more great ideas on where to set up your driveway alarm system even if you don't have a driveway!

How Long Will This Inexpensive Alarm System Last?


We received our driveway alarm three years ago and it worked perfectly until about six months ago when, thanks to squirrels (we think), the outside unit became undependable. Rather than replacing just the sensor, I simply ordered an entire new system. As for battery life, we have changed the batteries about once a year.

What About False Alarms From the Motion Detector?


Yes, we occasionally get false alarms. Our sensor is mounted on an oak tree and deer love to eat acorns, so recently, as the acorn crop was plentiful this year, visiting deer set off the alarm on a regular basis. We are aware that deer cross our driveway frequently, so we take that into consideration when checking outside after the alarm sounds. We occasionally notice squirrels in the area, too, and occasionally a neighborhood dog passes by. Neither set off the alarm often enough that we complain. An occasional false alarm from our wildlife neighbors is expected and we're fine with that.

Heat is another factor that affects the sensor and can cause false alarms. It is advised that you don't install the sensor in an area that gets direct sunlight, including near a window that absorbs heat that might set off the alarm.

Occasionally, on a particularly windy day, we turn off the alarm to avoid false alarms from blowing leaves or tree limbs. Living in a wooded area, that is just a factor we have to consider and work around.

Would You Buy This Driveway Alarm Again?


Overall, I'd rather have occasional false alarms than not have the driveway alarm. I've come to depend on it when expecting visitors and, especially, when unexpected visitors or delivery drivers arrive.

I like to know anytime someone is coming or going and since I can't watch outside all the time, and because our trusty watchdog isn't always on duty (lots of naps, you know), I am thankful that the 1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm is always on the job.

So yes, I would buy it again and I definitely recommend it to others who care about keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.

P.S. Just a reminder that a driveway alarm system would make a wonderful gift for someone whose safety you care about. This is one of the most thoughtful gifts we've ever received. 

~Susan
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Friday, November 18, 2016

DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter for Cars Review

 DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter for Cars
Many years ago, we purchased an APC DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter for our car.  It has to be one of the single best purchases for car travel that we have ever made.

We were preparing for our annual fall break vacation to Florida and the time of departure was upon us.  Our son was packing his Nintendo GameCube and games so he and his friend could play video games together at night.  Someone commented on how nice it would be if they could play the games on the long drive too.  Thus,  the search was on!  

Never one to dismiss a challenge, my husband was determined to accommodate the boys.  He ran to the local Target store and returned with this awesome inverter.  Honestly, I had no idea such a thing existed.  It worked like a charm and has continued to work for more than 15 years since. 


How to Use the DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter


It is really very simple to use the DC to AC Power Inverter.  You simply plug it into the cigarette lighter receptacle, then plug your electric device into the inverter via the 3 prong AC outlet

 APC Air/Auto TravelPower TeleAdapt DC to AC Power Inverter (75W DC/AC, 120V) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)For many years, the kids have used the inverter adapter to plug in the video game consoles, but it has also been used for other electrical devices.

  1.   Laptops
  2.   Kindles
  3.   iPad
  4.   My Camera's Rechargeable Batteries  (My #1 Use)
  5.   Cell Phone Chargers 
  6.   Media Players
  7.   Electric Throw Blanket
  8.   Rechargable Flashlight
  9.   Coffee Mug Warmer
  10.   My Husband's Tailgating Leg Lamp 
This unit does have an auto shut-off to protect your car battery once the car is turned off and a built-in circuit protector to protect your electronics.  There is also a little green display light that shows when the inverter is powered.  

I have not personally used the APC Power Inverter / Adapter on an airplane, but the airline adapter is also included.


Buying a DC-to-AC Power Inverter/Adapter


Sadly, our unit has been discontinued by the manufacturer.  When the one featured above is sold out, you might want to consider one of the units below.  The are highly rated by consumers and offer USB ports too, which is something that my APC unit does not have.



Airplane or Auto DC to AC Power Inverter / Adapter Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Review of the AOC Computer Monitor

AOC 24-Inch Computer Monitor

Well, there I was working on my computer when suddenly, with no warning, my computer monitor dimmed and the picture slowly faded away.  Knowing very little about the inner workings of computers, I had no idea what just happened.

I tried rebooting the computer, but to no avail. I then called my local computer repair shop and described the problem. Their advice was to bring in the tower to my desktop computer for them to run a diagnostics.  Since this service is FREE, I was happy to do so.  Turned out the computer is just fine (thank goodness), so the problem was the monitor. 




Old Computer Monitor (c) Wednesday Elf

My old monitor was part of a desktop computer setup I purchased about eight years ago, so it isn't all that surprising that it finally wore out.  The solution ~ buy a new monitor.

Since most computer monitors are interchangeable with any computer setup, it didn't really matter which brand of monitor I bought. Therefore,  I went searching for the best buy.  I didn't need anything really fancy. I'm not a gamer, so didn't need a special gaming monitor.  So it really came down to getting the most for the money.  



AOC 24-Inch Computer Monitor

 

My NEW Computer Monitor (c) Wednesday Elf
The monitor I purchased is the AOC 24-inch slim design LED flat screen.  My old monitor was also a flat screen, but was just 19 inches. I'm still getting used to the bigger screen! 

 

On the subject of the 'bigger screen', I noticed quite a difference in the appearance of icons and fonts on this 24-inch monitor. With a larger 'space', everything appeared smaller. After awhile, I discovered there was a way to get back to viewing things on my new monitor the way I was used to. My cousin stopped by for a visit and was telling me a story about how he changed the DISPLAY on his 92-year-old dad's computer monitor to a larger font so he could 'see' the words with his Macular Degeneration limiting his eyesight.   So, following my cousin's instructions, I did a similar change to the size of my fonts.  

 

Changing the Monitor Display

 

In case you are wondering, simply go to the Start Menu, click on Control Panel, then Appearance, then Display.  

 

Under the Display tab you will see something that says something similar to "change the size of text and other items on your screen". There are some preset options (small, medium, large) and one option that states 'set custom text'. The 'medium' choice is preset at 125% larger than normal and that works well for my Uncle, but is too much larger than I need.  So I chose my own percentage and found that about 108% larger makes everything on my screen look the way it did when I had just a 19-inch monitor.  Nice to know that you can have something new that is 'bigger and better', and still have it display the way you want.

 

Key Features of the AOC Monitor



  •  eSaver software to set low-power configuration
  •  23.6" viewable image with 16:9 aspect ratio
  •  Narrow bezel and slim design
  •  Multimedia connectivity with VGA and DVI ports
  •  VESA 100mm wall-mount compliant

This AOC monitor can be found in a variety of places, including Walmart, but I decided to buy mine at Staples because it was on sale this week. 





AOC began as Admiral in Chicago in 1934.  In 1967 the company became the Admiral Overseas Corporation (AOC).  Established in Taiwan, it became the first manufacturer of color televisions for export. Today AOC is known as the Worldwide Leader in Display Manufacturing. Click here for more information about the AOC company.

Back Online!

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I picked up my computer tower from the repair shop after they checked it out and found it in fine shape.  On the same  trip, I brought home my new monitor.  I unpacked and set up the monitor,  plugged all the cords back into the tower, and turned it on.  My new monitor immediately lit up nice and bright and I was once again 'back in business'. I was without a computer for less than 24 hours, but missed it terribly! It's amazing how dependent we have become on our computers!

Quick Links for a Computer Monitor by AOC:


Review by Wednesday Elf. 

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