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Showing posts with the label Review

Spring Preview #4: Review - Scotts Snap Spreader

This weekend wasn't ALL home disasters and fire department visits. We also did a bunch of spring yard work (and completely transformed the dining room with new fixtures, paint & wainscoting, but that's another post.) And in doing our spring yard work, we happened across one lawn gadget that I can recommend for weekend warrior non-pros like me - the Scotts Snap Spreader.

Opening Day App Review: MLB at the Ballpark Update

Just in time for Opening Day, MLB At the Ballpark just got a major update. New "ticket-style" icon, new features. I'll be using this app all season, so the review will be ongoing. But for now, some Opening Day thoughts:

Review: Go Get GoToMeeting for iPad

I'm on the road a lot. But when I'm in Chicago, I am a remote worker, operating from my home office.  Our company uses GoToMeeting quite a bit - both for internal meetings & presentations, and for assisting clients with remote forensic collections of their data for litigation.  It's a very versatile and powerful web platform - essentially, a conference call in which all of the participants can hear each other, either over the phone or through their computer's microphone & speakers.  At the same time, all of the participants can see the selected "presenter's" computer screen - and any participant can be given control of the presenter's computer.  As you can imagine, this is incredibly useful for, say, operating a powerful forensic tool for a client employee based in, say, China. The only problem is, we're interviewing that employee and logging responses at the same time. And if the GoToMeeting is showing the target's

Review - WOW Ultra TV vs. DirecTV HR34 Genie

Here in the Chicago suburbs, we had two options for whole-home DVR services. We initially went with WOW Ultra TV, and after about 4 months, we switched to DirecTV's HR34 Genie system. (Neither Verizon FIOS nor AT&T UVerse were available in our area, so we can't review those. I haven't used Dish's Hopper, either. This is a straight compare/contrast review of WOW vs. DirecTV.) Both Ultra TV and Genie have their plusses and minuses. Both offer 1080p output, but that's primarily for the menus, as most TV content is provided at lower resolutions.  Both systems have a similar design architecture - a central hub, with multiple tuners and a large hard drive, recording and storing all TV shows, and distributing them to televisions around the house upon request.  Both systems also bring a number of "add-on" apps and have ways of accessing "on demand" content.  We've had each system for enough time to really put them through

Review: A Year with SiriusXM for iPad

Okay, I'll grant that it probably hasn't been a full year. We're reviewing the latest version of the SiriusXM app for iPad, which is excellent, and should be a mandatory purchase for all SiriusXM subscribers.  For most of us, satellite radio is strictly for the car. Getting their signal in your house was a ridiculously difficult process - you needed to purchase equipment, and use an antenna near a window. I wasn't interested.  I also wasn't particularly interested in their browser-based internet radio (even though I had it on a free trial.) It was more or less tied to the computer, and my speakers weren't great.  Then, SiriusXM released a mobile app, (and worked out their contract issues with Howard Stern, making his broadcasts available on the app), and Apple introduced AirPlay, making every bit of iPad audio stream-able to any AirPlay device. Suddenly, this was a seriously compelling product. I could listen to any SiriusXM content, over my home

One day with the DirecTV HR34 - Get this gadget!

There's been quite a bit of chatter about the HR34's growing pains. Sluggish menus, old SD interface, missed recordings. Many of those issues have been addressed and fixed throughout 2012. I was still a bit nervous as our tech left after yesterday's install. Well, consider me impressed. This is, without a doubt, the best set-top box I have ever used. It's a leap forward, in the way that the TiVo Series 3 was a leap forward in its day. It can record 5 HD channels while playing a sixth - with no limitations. Whole home DVR. Beautiful on-screen GUI, with snappy scrolling. Massive (expandable?) storage. It has YouTube, Pandora, and a slew of DirecTV-centric presentation goodies (All MLB games + a scoreboard? Sure. Weather? Twitter? No problem.) For $99, this is money very well spent. For DirecTV, this is an all-too-rare move by a market leader to not only stay ahead of the competition, but to exponentially outpace them. (UPDATE: And now, the HR34 "Ge

Review: Three Days with WOW Ultra TV (UPDATE: Now with Photo/Video)

Ultra TV Grid Guide It took a couple of days and a half-dozen false starts, but after getting the primary box replaced, we have a fully operational Ultra TV setup. We are going to keep it for at least a few months. Here is the rundown: 1. Install was a bit of a trial. We have a very new home, so this shouldn't have been a wiring issue... But for the first couple of days, WOW simply could get high definition to work. They'd reset the box remotely (or I'd unplug it), HD would work for a couple minutes, and then a black screen and a "Signal Loss Detected" error message. We got a box replacement, and a $10 statement credit. Fair enough! 2. The channel lineup is a bit on the slight side . It's not bad, mind you - but there's no way to get NFL/NHL/NBA networks, no Bravo HD (SD only, which is just odd...) and a number of channels I'd expect to see in "basic" are on the "signature" tier, which I don't get. We also woul