HP Wireless Elite Keyboard

HP Wireless Elite KeyboardI love my new computer keyboard. The HP Wireless Elite Keyboard is the best purchase I’ve made for my PC in many, many years. My previous Microsoft Keyboard was big, bulky and the keys felt clunky and sloppy. When you think about it – what really gets used on a computer these days? The screen, obviously; the mouse and … the keyboard. Why do so few people talk about the keyboard? If you are a fast typist – and are in no hurry to give up your PC for a Mac, there are a few reasons you’ll like the HP Elite.

Pros of the HP Wireless Elite Keyboard

  1. The keyboard is razor-thin and has that Mac-style look and feel.
  2. The keys are extremely solid to type on – and fast typists will appreciate them.
  3. The keyboard is … well, cheap. Not cheaply made, but low-cost.

Mac Style Keyboard for 1/3rd the Price

If you ever visited a Mac promotional display like at your Best Buy or Apple store, you probably loved the high-tech look of the aluminum, razor-thin keyboard. The HP Wireless Keyboard is not aluminum or quite as small, but it has the same, appealing flavor and techy, good lucks of a Mac-Style Keyboard.

HP Elite is a Great Typing Keyboard

If you’re a fast typist, you’ll love the feel of the keys on the HP Wireless Elite Keyboard. The keyboard is low profile enough that you can bang on the keys without having to worry about the keyboard sliding around. The keys are responsive, snappy, quiet and are comfortable to type on.

High-Quality $29.00 Keyboard

For a high-quality keyboard, you’d expect to pay at least $50, right? The HP Elits just $29.99 – and you may be able find it even cheaper than that if you do some online research.  The Mac keyboard is between $69.00 and $79.00 – it will work on your PC, but as an Apple keyboard, the keys are not quite compatible with Windows 7.

Mac Style Keyboard Additional Features

Don’t expect the HP Elite to give you all the same features you’d find on your Mac. The current revision of the Elite is V2 and it has most of the basics: Volume Control, VCR-Style control arrows, Web and Sleep Buttons. My one request would be an additional power button for turning the PC on or off, but that’s minor. Overall, the HP Wireless Elite Keyboard is a great substitute for a Mac Style Keyboard that won’t break the bank.

Google Analytics iPhone

google analytics iphone

Google Analytics iPhone Apps

Google Analytics iPhone Apps are a dime a dozen, but which one is best? It’s no secret. Website designers love analytics. If you manage several websites like I do, you probably spend more time monitoring your traffic on your iPhone or Android mobile device than on your PC or Laptop. Over the years, I’ve found it difficult to muster the energy and focus to sit in front of a computer or laptop screen and look at a bunch of boring reports, charts, statistics and trends. I asked myself: wouldn’t it be easier, more enjoyable and relaxing to monitor Google analytics on an iPhone or similar device? Only if the iPhone app does what I need it to do and is easy to use. I’ve used only two apps that really do a good job with mobile analytics – in fact, both of them do it better than the real thing on the desktop.


AnalyticsAppThis is the first analytics app I got for my iPhone and I still consider it the best: It’s listed in the app store, simply as AnalyticsApp and at $6.99, is ranked as one of the most expensive apps I’ve ever purchased. The AnalyticsApp is quick and easy to use. Simply enter in your Google account info and AnalyticsApp will automatically load up all of your websites as an easy-to-read, scrollable list. Touch the website you want to view and get instant access to your website traffic from yesterday, today or a date range of your choice. Unlike the actual analytics website, the traffic and visitor information is updated by the minute – and very accurate. For some reason, the AnalyticsApp is not ranked very highly by others. For a two week period, analyticsapp stopped working for me and I began using the program below. A quick update fixed the problem and I quickly went back to this one as my favorite.


quicklyticsQuicklytics is one slick little iPhone app and is ranked very highly by its users at the app store. When I first began using Quicklytics I was instantly impressed with the hourly charts with yesterday vs today or weekly comparisons of visitor traffic. Pressing your finger on any of the charts drills down to the fine details of keyword results, landing pages, top pages, etc.. There is a ton of information on Quicklytics. Unfortunately, I found it a bit tiresome and cumbersome going from one site to another. You have to scroll page by page. When you have 25 websites, that gets to be a hassle. When the iTunes store reported the update to my original, favorite AnalyticsApp, I quickly went back, despite having just recently spent $5.99 on Quicklytics. I’ll keep them both on my phone, because they represent the best of Google Analytics Apps for the iPhone.

Canon SX40 Review

canon sx40 reviewHow do you rate the Canon SX40? 

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The Canon SX40 HS is a popular camera due to its huge, 35X Wide-Angle Zoom lens and HD 1080P Recording capability. But how good does it take pictures? Before I answer that question, let me say that I’m a huge fan of large optical zooms on digital cameras. I won’t even look at a camera today that has an optical zoom under 20X. I purchased my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 about 3 years ago solely on the fact that it had a 12X Zoom which was one of the largest available at the time for the price range. I paid about $249.00 for it and you can see the review here: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1.

Photo o fGrey Hero with Panasonic ZFS1Pictured here is a close-up photo of a great blue heron taken from my deck of the neighbors pond. If you know anything about these fabulous birds, you cannot get anywhere close to them without scaring them off. A 12X Zoom lense made it possible for me to get such a close-up, detailed photo of this bird looking for fish. select this photo to get a closer view and you’ll see why you want nothing less than a 12X Optical zoom on your next camera. But then, what good is a 12X Zoom if you’re picture quality is less than perfect? The reason I’m considering the SX40 to replace my next camera is not just for the 35X Zoom capability.

Enticing Reasons to Buy the Canon SX40

In addition to the 35X Zoom, the SX40 features 1080P recording capability. What I find extremely enticing about this is the ability to use that 1080P video recording with the 35X Zoom. To see this in action, simply take a look at the reviews below. I’m amazed at what you can do. Look at the close up video action of an amusement ride at a distant so far away that it looks like a dot to the naked eye. The Canon SX40 also has image stabilization which is important with such a large zoom. The videos and picture quality in the reviews look pretty solid.

Drawbacks of the Canon SX40

So what’s not to like about theSX40? The big drawback on all these point and shoot cameras is the indoor picture quality and the SX40 is not much different. The SX40 has a decent, but not great flash. Most of the indoor pictures are nothing close to the outdoor ones as far as quality. I’d like it to have more than 12.1 Megapixels and unfortunately, the 1080P Video Recording is 24 FPS which is a bit slow. There were also some complaints among SX40 users that the microphone picks up too much feedback noise during recording. Few – and I do mean very few users regretted purchasing this camera despite the few, complaints and areas where it lacks fulfilling their complete wish-list in an affordable point-and-shoot camera.

Canon SX40 Review Conlusion

While not the perfect camera for professionals or photography snobs, the SX40 offers more value for the money due to its 35X zoom lens. The picture quality for outdoor shots ranges from 4 to 4.5 stars by users and 3.5 to 4 stars among professional reviewers. When you consider that there are cameras that cost 5 times as much which don’t rate any better among users or reviewers, the Canon SX40 is under-rated in my opinion. There are enough amazing close-up pictures to draw your own conclusions bout this Canon SX40 Review before deciding to buy one for yourself-even if it’s in addition to a much more expensive camera without the large 35X Optical zoom.

Best Headphones Under 100

best headphones under 100Last week, I decided that I wanted something a little better than the Apple earbuds that came with my iPhone to listen to music. I made it my goal to find the best headphones under 100 Dollars. Why $100? Well, years ago, I paid right around $100 for a pair of over-the-ear Sony Headphones. Even though they still work, they were collecting dust for a number of years until my son decided he could use them for some of his computer and music programming. Even my son was surprised when I told him I paid $100 for these Sony headphones. He has been planning on getting a good pair of headphones for himself, too. These particular Sony headphones were only average.  Problems? Well, for starters, they had a rather weak bass and a tinny narrow-sounding mid-range and treble. They just didn’t sound live enough. I thought I could do better for under $100 bucks and I was proven right. I bought these headphones before the internet age when I didn’t have the privilege of doing a Google search for the best Headphones under 100. Finally,  I decided to do something about it and find something that would actually improve my music listening experience at home.

Best Headphones under $100 for $21.59

Monoprice Headphones Model # 8323

The best headphones for under 100 Dollars ended up costing me only $21.59 (nearly only 20% of my projected budget). Now, I can’t say with absolute certainty that there are not better headphones which might cost $70, $80 or $90, but you’d be hard-pressed to find them. I would also venture to guess that there are sets that cost over $100 that don’t sound quite as good as these Monoprice Headphones. The Monoprice Headphones were $21.59 plus about $6.50 for shipping and arrived at my door in two days.

Monoprice Headphones User Ratings

monoprice headphonesAt Monoprice.com, there were 40 ratings from happy music listeners on the 8323 Model Monoprice headphones.  What really pushed me over the top, was a very favorable expert review on the CNET website. The majority opinion on these headphones was that they are astoundingly good for the price. Some users of $100 and $150 headphones went so far to say that the monoprice headphones were actually better. My search for the best headphones over $100 ended quicker and much cheaply than I expected. I bought a pair. I was anxious to see if 40 people could be wrong about the Model # 8323 Monoprice Headphones.

Monoprice Headphones # 8323 Sound Notes

I received the monoprice headphones only two days after ordering them. I was immediately impressed with the two detachable cords that came with the set: One long, thick cord and one short cord. The monoprice headphones seem well-made; are light weight and very comfortably fit over the ears. They do an outstanding job of blocking out surrounding noise. I have a wide variety of music on my iPhone from classical, pop vocals to rock, jazz, soul and some hip hop. These headphones have a very balanced sound. Good, solid, well directed bass; very tight mid-range and crisp highs that don’t get tinny or out of range. These sound great on the iPhone, but even better playing direct WAV Tracks from a CD and external amplifier. The stereo separation from ear to ear is very good. If I have a complaint, it might be that they could use a bit more bass and that the mid-range seems a little too harsh at times. I am being real picky, though – these headphones are a treat and they certainly blow the $100  Sony headphones out of the water. These are the best Cheap Headphones you can buy.  After listening to them for the past couple of days, I have no problem believing others who claim that these $21.59 Monoprice headphones were better than the ones that cost them 5 to 8-times more.

White Noise App and Sleep Sounds

What is a White Noise App?

white noise appA White Noise App provides Smart Phone users with sounds to fall asleep to. If you’re like me, and have trouble falling asleep and/or happen to be a very light sleeper, you are likely to agree with me that a White Noise App is the most useful and healthiest utility you ever owned for your iPhone, Droid, iPad or any other mobile device. It was by no accident that I discovered how useful it would be to download sleep sounds for my iPhone. While staying at a couple of Hotels this past summer and fall I noted how easily I could be woken up by the slightest noise. One Hotel I stayed at in New Mexico this fall had a particularly noisy room heater. The fan drowned out those subtle, but startling noises like doors closing down the hall, footsteps, running water, etc. I slept like a rock that night and then it dawned on me:  I needed a white noise app for my iPhone! Finding sounds to fall sleep to at night would be the easiest thing in the world for my iPhone and stereo dock. I browsed the online Apple applications and found everything I needed and more.  In fact, there are so many apps that provide sleep sounds that it would be impossible to try them all. Under the category of white noise app there are tons of things: Sleep Noises, Sleep Sounds, Relaxing Ocean Sounds, music for sleeping, rain storms. Thunder, oscillating fans, chimes, airplane travel, pet noises, birds, crickets, trains, car traffic, city sounds, beaches, waves, wind, waterfalls, vacuums; and on and on – there is even a white noise sound for your white noise app. You would be hard-pressed to name the number one sleep sounds application because they all have slightly different advantages. The good news is that there are many excellent white noise apps and you don’t need to pay much if any for them. Let me explain my experience with a few of the more highly rated ones from the Apple application Store.

Sleep Sounds to Fall Asleep To…


music sleep soundsThis one is a sentimental favorite of mine because it is the first white noise app. Naturespace comes with 6 sleep sounds themes: Song Birds, Summer Valley, Infinite Shoreline, Riverwind, Rain Into Water and Night at Lake. All of the sleep sounds are very high quality and effective, but if you want more you have to buy them. Also, there is no possibility of customizing these sounds or changing the mixture, balance and volume. One other huge drawback that I discovered through personal experience: My first couple of times using Naturespace, I noticed that I would always seem to wake up right around the time the music or sleep sounds were timed to turn off. Hmmm, I wondered if there were any other types of white noise apps that addressed this. The limitations of Naturespace could have something to do with the fact it is a free version, but I was unable to find any upgrades for it other than additional sleep sounds. Obviously, a good white noise app should provide more than just sounds to fall asleep to. I was pleased to find a great number of apps that addressed these limitations.

Sleep Machine

sounds to fall asleep toI downloaded Sleep Machine by SleepSoft LLC because it was very highly recommended. The free version is very impressive. My number one issue with waking up abruptly when the sounds stopped is addressed with a programmable sleep timer that actually fades the sleep sounds out gradually over time. Problem solved – on my first use with Sleep Machine, I didn’t wake up when the sleep music or sleep sounds stopped. Sleep Machine is far more powerful and customizable than NatureSpace. You have 13 different sounds with the free version and you are able to mix these sounds, 3 at a time. Also, you can save your favorite combinations of sounds. Sleep Machine comes with 7 pre-mixed favorites: Beach House, Sci-Fi Movie, Stormy Beach, Summer Porch, White Noise Blast, Spring Rain, Train Ride. For $1.99, you can add dozens of more sounds and a full featured alarm clock. Sleep Sound apps don’t get much better than this – or do they?

Nature Sound

Nature Sound comes with 35 Sleep Sounds and a Mixer that allows you to combine a dozen or more sounds at once. The free version is limited to just 11 mixer settings, but for 99 cents you can add 100 Soundtracks on to your sound board as well as 30 photos and 6 lullabies. You can assign a picture to each of the sounds in your soundboard. Additionally, you can  mix sounds from your own iPod Library. Nature Sound is an impressive product. Sound quality is probably not quite up to par with Naturespace, but you would never know it on a small, iPhone Dock. Once you add, combine and balance the sounds the way you want them, you can save them onto an icon for quick play back. Even the free version of Nature Sound is flexible and powerful. If I have one minor complain it is that the interface is a bit confusing. Between Sounds and Soundboards, it took me a little while to figure out the system.


The WhiteNoise white noise app seems to be the most configurable of them all as far as tweaking sleep sounds. Functionally, WhiteNoise by TMSOFT is very similar to Nature Sound, without the photos and icons. The difference with WhiteNoise is that you can do more with the actual sound. In addition to volume and balance you can also change the pitch. Like Nature Sound, it seems that you can mix an endless number of songs with White Noise. Without having the chance to spend a few nights with each of these sleeping sound programs, it’s hard to say which one is my favorite between this one and Nature Sound. Perhaps, the difference will be in the quality of the sounds.

The bottom line is that you cannot go wrong with Sleep Machine, Nature Sound or White Noise for helping you get to sleep and stay asleep. Having programmable sounds to fall asleep to is a luxury that I didn’t know existed prior to the iPhone and its endless opportunities. It is important to choose one that has the fade, sleep timer. If you need a better night’s sleep, the answer is a white noise app. Wait..not so fast!

Relax Melodies

relax melodiesI spoke way too soon before I found yet another white noise app yesterday evening that I like better than them all. Relax Melodies (Premium Version) was priced a little steep for an iPhone application ($2.99), but after using the free version of Relax Melodies I instantly appreciated the user interface which is extremely intuitive and much more enjoyable to use than the rest of the sleep sounds apps. I have never been so eager to spend $2.99 in all of my life to get all 82 sounds that come with the premium version. As much as I love both WhiteNoise and Nature Sound, the interface for mixing sounds, setting the timer and other settings are a bit confusing and just not as pleasant and fun to use as Relax Melodies. With Relax Melodies, it is not only possible to choose from an unlimited number of sound combinations, but choosing them, using them and saving them to your Favorites is actually easy and fun. All 82 sounds are visually grouped on pages which you can scroll through by swiping left or right with your finger. You select and preview each sound by simply pressing it once with your finger. You can adjust the volume balance of each individual sound by sliding the top volume bar to the left or right. Once you’ve selected the combination of sounds and balance you like, you simply press the favorites button at the bottom of your screen; select the “Add Selection” icon on the top right of your screen, type in your name and press the “Save” Icon – Very Intuitive!
Go go back to the sounds, simply press the “Home” button the bottom left of your screen. Each page, includes between 9-12 sounds and there is great depth and variety. I believe the variety, depth and quality of the sounds on Relax Melodies is better than all of the others. The basics are all there: Rain, Waterfalls, Sprinklers, Thunder Storms, wind chimes, birds, crickets, flutes, oceans, etc., etc., but there are also some very beautiful melodies that blend quite well with them all. My favorites are Orchestra and Drama. There are also some meat and potatoes white noise sounds: Pink Noise, Brown Noise and White Noise. If you want to get scientific about sleep sounds, Relax Melodies also includes something called, binaurals beats which are produced using a beating tone between the ears. This is meant for headphone use only and includes 6 different sleep levels: Deep Meditation, Dreams, Dreamless Sleep, Concentration, Relaxation, Pre-Sleep. I plan on experimenting with some of these at certain times of the day/night.

Supports Air Play

Monoprice Headphones is Air Play ready, so you can stream it on your television and/or high quality stereo system. Streaming to a really good stereo is a great way to experiment with Mixings and Save new Favorite Sleep Sound combos.

Timer and Alarm

Relax Melodies, by Ipnos Soft, also has that ever-so-important fade-out alarm which can be adjusted from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. If I’m asleep, I’m going to always use the maximum fade-out of two minutes. Why not? Relax Melodies also has a full featured Alarm Clock, Timer and a digital clock display for night. What’s not to like about Relax Melodies. If I had to think of one complaint it might be that the name is a little misleading. It was not easy to find this app, because I was searching for things like Sleep Sounds, Sounds to Fall Asleep To, and White Noise Apps. Though Relax Melodies certainly does make melodies to sleep to, the name is a bit misleading. It’s a full fledged Sleep Sounds Machine – and a darn good one at that. For my 2 Cents, or $2.99, Relax Melodies is the best Sleep sounds app available.

iPhone 4S Sprint

iphone 4s sprintIf you’re an iPhone lover who is looking for a reason to dump AT&T (and many people are), you can now pre-order the new iPhone 4S, 16GB for $199.00 with a Sprint 2 year Contract. I realize that there are even a few Verizon grumblers now after the iPhone became  available to them several weeks ago. I wouldn’t touch a review of phone carriers with a 10-foot pole. It seems no matter who you talk to, they’ll tell you they love their phone but hate their service. Consider me a former Sprint grumbler. I was never happy with my phone service from Sprint, but the main reason I switched to AT&T two years ago was to get the iPhone. Whether it is bad phone service or the nature of the phone, I predict there will be an equal number of  iPhone owners between Sprint, Verizon and AT&T grumbling about how bad their phone service is. Still, a new carrier like Sprint offers the opportunity for a number of new, first-time iPhone owners and may offer  some of the grumbling, AT&T owners who are nearly two years into their contracts the chance to upgrade from an older iPhone to the new iPhone 4. So, what’s the difference between the iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4?

iPhone 4 vs iPhone 4S Sprint

Don’t think you have to go with Sprint to get the new iPhone 4S. On the other hand, if you are going to go with Sprint, the new iPhone 4S is the only one that will be offered – at least until the iPhone 5 becomes available.  Some of the media and tech enthusiasts thumbed their noses up at the new iPhone 4s, complaining that it was an underwhelming and unimpressive upgrade from the iPhone 4. I think this is being a little harsh. While it is true that the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S will all be able to take advantage of the latest iPhone OS 5, there are some significant hardware advantages of the iPhone 4s vs 4.

  • Dual Core Processing (Dual Core A5 vs Single Core A4)
  • 8 Megapixel Camera vs 5 Megapixel Camera
  • Camera Image Stabilizer and Face Detection
  •  1080P Video Recording vs 720P
  • Bluetooth 4 vs Bluetooth 2.1
The new, iPhone 4S Sprint will offer a 64GB HardDrive version as well. Pricing from Sprint looks like this:
iPhone 4s Sprint iPhone Pricing with 2-Year Contract 
  • iPhone 4s 16GB: $199.00
  • iPhone 4s 32GB: $299.00
  • iPhone 4S 64GB: $399.00

I realize the differences between the iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 might not be compelling enough advantages for some to make a switch in phones or carriers. However, if you’re an unhappy AT&T customer nearing the end of your contract, would it be so bad to upgrade to the 8MP Camera and the faster, dual-core processor? And who wouldn’t want to shoot 1080P Video. If you’re willing to take a chance on Sprint, why not take a chance on the new iPhone 4S?

Best Web Hosting

best web hostingI am lucky to be using what I consider the best web hosting company in the internet industry. Product Review Ratings is now in it’s fourth year of service and it makes sense to give credit to the tools of the web business trade that have supported me throughout the ups and downs of a web-based product reviewer. Also, you can take advantage of HostGator Coupons that show up from time to time.

My mission for Product Review Ratings has been and continues to be to review any and all products or services I’ve ever experienced or used. The possibilities for reviews and sharing my experiences are so broad and endless that I occasionally forget to see what’s right under my nose and talk about it. We don’t really appreciate things like web hosting companies until we have a problem and need their help. I didn’t have to do extensive research to find the best hosting company in the business. I’ve been using HostGator for about 3 years. To be honest, before I signed up with HostGator, I wasn’t looking for the best web hosting company in the world – I was looking for the best price. What I didn’t realize is how many times I would end up putting the quality of HostGator’s customer service to the test many times. Last night, was another prime opportunity:

In my never-ending fascination with new, WordPress plug-ins and the desire to make things work better, I sometimes end up breaking something. Yesterday afternoon, I broke one of my more successful websites. I could no longer get to my home page and as luck would have it, I didn’t make a backup before I started making risky changes to the site. I was comforted knowing that I could go to HostGator and have them do a restore of my website because they keep everything automatically backed up. Now, having automatic backups is not what makes HostGator the best web hosting company – that is something any web hosting company should do. What separates HostGator from the rest is what they ended up actually doing and how they did it:

The Best Hosting Company has the Best Service

Contacting HostGator has always been very fast and simple. I use their online LiveChat whenever I need something and they are always very responsive and helpful. To my delight, when I logged into the HostGator LiveChat, I was greeted with a message that there were no customers ahead of me and 147 technicians available to assist me. How’s that for service?! A few seconds later, a technician was right there to help me. He understood my problem and request instantly. When I mentioned to the HostGator technician that I’d like to pay the small, $15.00 fee and have my website restored, he said he would like to try and fix the problem before resorting to that. I gave him my information and a few minutes later the problem was solved. To me, that is a web hosting company going above and beyond the call of duty to help its customers. Understand that web hosting really has nothing to do with supporting website design software. It just so happens that my technician was more knowledgeable than me with WordPress and was able to fix the problem. I really didn’t expect that kind of service when I signed up with HostGator – what sold me was their cost and what I considered the best web hosting plans in the business. Let me mention what they offer:

  • Hatchling Plan: If you’ve only got one website and you need it hosted, you can do it for just $3.96 a month. With this plan, you also get unlimited band-width and Disk Space.
  • Baby Plan: This is by far the Best web hosting plan for those who have multiple website domains: The discounted price is only $6.36 per month for unlimited bandwidth, disk space – PLUS unlimited Domains.
  • Business Plan: If you’re truly running a business on your websites, then this one is the best web hosting plan for you: In addition to the unlimited bandwidth, domains and disk space, HostGator gives you your own private IP Address, SSL and Toll Free phone number. Only $10.36 with the current discount.

So, that’s HostGator in a nutshell. You may be wondering how I can call it the best of the bunch when I haven’t even tried all the others; Let’s just say that it is without doubt the best company for me to host my websites out of the 2 or 3 that I have tried.  Furthermore, compared to other web based fees and services, HostGator has proven to be the best company I have used in any capacity.

Plantronics S12 Review

plantronics s12 reviewIt was such a great relief when my employer sent me a Plantronics S12 headset to replace the broken one that I had been using for the last 7 years. If you’re in sales, I’m sure you can relate to the importance of being hands-free. In fact, if you’ve got any kind of job where you spend most of your time on a phone and typing on a computer, you know how important it is to have a good head-set. The S12 headset replaced my previous S10 model that I’ve used at work for the last 7 years.

plantronics s10aI get a kick out of the sitcom show, The Office, but I can’t believe the sales reps on the show are talking on the phone without a headset. Doesn’t this make the show seem a little bit behind the times? We’ve been using headsets in our offices for at least 25-30 years. I think headset technology has improved immensely, even since the previous Plantronics one I was using. I’ve been in sales for 25 years and for the last 8 have been using a Plantronics headset. I realize that Plantronics is considered the consummate headset brand, but I cursed at my older headset more than I actually used it. My old headset was a Wired Plantronics S10A. Mechanically and functionally, the S10A looks almost identical to the new S12 that I’m using now. The difference is that the S12 actually works all the time and works well. Perhaps this is because the S10A is equipped with a couple of buttons that really are ambiguous. The Plantronics S12 lacks the Speak-Volume, Tone Dial and TxLevel switch of the S10A. I never liked the speak volume or tone button. Shouldn’t the headset just work like a regular handset? Do we ever have to set the volume and tone when talking into a regular phone receiver? Obviously, not. This new headset does exactly what it is supposed to do: It worked on the very first try and continues to work consistently on every telephone call. Maybe my old S10A was a lemon; or maybe it had too many unnecessary buttons, but I suffered with that headset for 7 years.

The S12 headset is like a breath of fresh air. I don’t even think about this headset. It just works seemingly like I would expect a phone to work. Like the S10A, there are 6 channels on the left hand side. I kept this setting on channel 1 from the very beginning and it has worked flawlessly. In addition to the channel setting, there is a volume button, mute-toggle button and headset/handset toggle button – that’s it. The buttons on the S12 are nice and big with a green LED light above the handset toggle and a button that lights up red when the mute button is depressed. Warning: When you’re using the handset, the mute button doesn’t work – so don’t be throwing f-bombs and profanities at your boss during sales meetings with the headset. One feature the Plantronics S12 has that my old, S10A didn’t: The mouthpiece on the S12 has a red, flashing LED when you’re on the phone, letting your co-workers know when it is not a good time to start a conversation about their long weekend or how they drank too much the night before. Features aside, I’ve been told what really sets Plantronics headsets apart from the competition is conversation quality. Based on my experience with the S12, I’m inclined to believe this claim. The clarity of the voice on the other end is crystal clear and I have not had one complaint about what the listener hears either. S12 headsets are identical to the S10. They can be used in one of two ways: with the ear hook that glides over your listening ear or with the head-band. I much prefer using the head band. It is both more stable and more comfortable. It would drive me crazy trying to get the single ear piece adjusted just right every time I pick up the head set. The band that fits over your head is not even noticeable. It’s just right. I would give the Plantronics S12 almost a perfect rating if it was wireless. I’m sure you can’t get a decent wireless headset anywhere close to to the kind of money my employer paid for my Plantronics S12. I’m satisfied with the unit in every way imaginable. If you’re looking for an affordable, wired headset, I highly recommend the S12 for your next headset.

Plantronics S12 Manual

Fuji Finepix S4000

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Fuji Finepix S4000


  • Pros: Amazing 30X Wide-Angle Zoom. Bright 3″ LCD Display, 720P HD Video, 14MP
  • Cons: Lackluster speed, Slightly better than average picture quality according to a number of users.

I’m a sucker for digital cameras with large optical zoom capabilities, so its no wonder that the Fuji Finepix S4000 display at Costco instantly grabbed my intention. Fuji Finepix S4000 boosts an almost unbelievable, optical, wide-angle zoom of 30X. This is unheard of in point and shoot digital cameras. Would I consider buying this Camera for $200?


If I wasn’t so satisfied with my 18 month old Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Camera with the 12X Zoom, I’d have seriously considered plopping down a reasonable $200 for the Fuji Finepix S4000. It was tempting enough as it was that I wanted to go home and read more about the S4000 on my iPad. What I learned was that the performance reviews from both users and camera professionals were not as impressive as the 30X Optical zoom.  One of the top complaints of the S4000 is that the camera is slow from the time it is turned on to taking that first picture.  If you’re looking for a snappy, small, portable, camera that’s ready in a heart-beat, the Finepix S4000 is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for better, wide-angle, close-up picture capabilities of wildlife and other outdoor photos, the Fuji Finepix S4000 has some tremendous possibilities. Between the large 14MP resolution and 30X Optical zoom, you will be able to get some pretty impressive, long-distance snapshots; excellent for large 8×10 borderless prints or displays on large HD Screens.

While the S4000 is larger than most point and shoot digital cameras, it’s a good size for taking those stable, zoomed-in shots outdoors. Also, its larger footprint will feel more stable in your hand for shooting HD Video. One huge benefit is the ability to shoot High Definition video using the 30X Optical, 24-720mm zoom lens. I assume the S4000 is capable, but as of this writing, I’ve been unable to confirm that. One small beef – there is no stereo recording of video and sound – only mono.

Verdict: **** 


Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500

This product has been discontinued and review has been removed.

DP67DEB3 Intel Core i7 Motherboard Review


The DP67DEB3 is a genuine Intel Core i7 Motherboard. If the CPU is the brain, the motherboard is the heart and soul inside the Antec 300 ATX Chassis of my son’s high performance computer.  I decided to go with an Intel brand motherboard on his high-end Core i7 system for a couple of reasons: One, I’ve built and installed thousands of computer systems and by and large, the Intel brand motherboards were the most reliable. Two (and this goes hand-in-hand with reason #1), Intel designed the technology. The board is based on the latest Intel Core i7 technology. While there are plenty of great motherboard manufacturers like Supermicro, MSI and ASUS, Intel is the one that designed the 2nd Generation i7 and they aren’t nearly so quick to launch new products before thoroughly testing them. While other motherboard manufacturers are releasing their models based on Intel’s design, much of the genuine  Intel products are still in the labs being tested. The 2nd Generation Intel Core i7 is no exception. This is an authentic 2nd Gen board with an affordable price tag.

The DP67DEB3 Motherboard at a Glance

The DP67DEB3 supports the latest, 2nd-Generation Intel iCore Processor series, including the i3, i5 and i7 which use the new 1155 socket. . This Intel motherboard is based on the Intel P67 Express Chipset with plenty of the latest features.  To name a few: A MicroATX board equipped with 2 USB3.0 Ports,  SATA Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10. Memory on the DP67DEB3 is expandable up to 64GB of RAM using 4ea, DDR3 Memory sockets. One of the biggest improvements of the new, 2nd-gen Intel iCore technology is the speed of the USB 3.0 which is 10-times faster than USB 2.0! That’s 4800MBPS vs just 480MPBS. You don’t need the latest and fastest Core i7 Processor to get these new benefits. Even an i3 user will enjoy the benefits of the Intel i7, full-featured motherboard. What else is there to like? Overclocking is supported on this board. Intel has not always had the latest, state of the art technology and speed, but in this case they’ve sweetened things up a bit. The DP67DEB3 is not only a safe choice, but a solid performer. Like all Intel, Boxed products, the DP67DEB3 comes with a full, 3-Year warranty. While the latest 2nd-Gen systems may not match the low prices of value, AMD built systems, they won’t necessarily break your bank budget either. The Intel DP67DEB3 can be had for under $129.00 and matched with a high performance, i3 CPU for under $300.

Where to Buy the Intel 2nd-Gen Motherboard

The DP67DEB3 is now Intel’s old news. There are faster, cheaper motherboards which support the latest generation of i7 Processors. However, there is still plenty of support for their older generation boards, if you need it. Check the Intel and Auction websites for old, refurbished models.


evga gts 450

Maybe the hardest of the hard-core gamers want a faster graphics card, but for the majority of computer users, the EVGA GTS 450 is overkill by a long-shot. In this series of reviews on my son’s home-built computer, we went fairly high-end on performance without becoming too extreme. Last week we reviewed the Asus 24″ Monitor.  The GTS-450 fits beautifully with a system that is mostly used for game programming, not actual gaming. Don’t get me wrong, this graphics card is plenty capable of performing impressive frame-rates with the latest games, but it is by no stretch of the imagination, the gamer’s spare-no-expense, state-of-the-art graphics card. It would be tough to find a more suitable, reasonably priced graphics card, particularly for the needs of the game-programmer, occasional gamer who needs performance, but not the very fastest, most expensive graphics card on the planet. Besides, no matter which graphics card you buy today, there will always be a faster, more expensive one on the horizon. The 450 represents the sweet-spot in computing graphics power were value and performance meet. I looked at a few comparable Radeon graphics cards and was unable to get the quite the same performance per dollar. So, now you know why I chose the GTS-450, but why the EVGA brand?

EVGA Brand makes a Difference

There are as many different versions of the GTS-450 as there are brands of socks. I chose the EVGA version of the GTS 450 based on two things: EVGA is a 4-star reviewed product with a very good track-record among hundreds of different users. Other makers of the same GTS-450 card are not always rated so well. The second reason I chose the EVGA GTS 450 was its outstanding price: $99.00 after mail-in rebate. $100 for a relatively high-performance graphics card like the EVGA GTS 450 is not too shabby.  So, how does this competitively priced GTS 450 graphics card by EVGA look on paper?

EVGA GTS 450 Specs

  • EVGA 01G-P3-1450-TR GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
  • Chipset Maker: Nvidia
  • Memory Clock Speed: 3608MHz
  • Core Clock: 822MHz
  • Processor Cores: 192
  • Shader Clock Speed: 1654MHz
  • Open GL: 4.0
  • DirectX: 11.0
  • Memory Size: 1GB
  • Connections: 1 HDMI Port and 2 DVI Ports
  • Warranty: 2 Year Parts/Labor