Category Archives: Shopping

Amazon PrimePantry Review

Amazon recently launched a new service, currently just for Prime members, called Amazon PrimePantry.  The idea is you can order certain pantry-esque items (no cold food) and have them shipped in 1 big box for just $6.  I ordered an assortment of items that I thought might be challenging to deliver intact.  Amazon’s goal is to have it delivered within 4 business days.  The selection of items is rather limited but clearly Amazon is launching with items they believe they can handle successfully.

The first snafu came with the delivery timeframe.  It arrived late but Amazon did refund me the $6 shipping as they always do when an item is late.  Since I had ordered some detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, and water, that made the box rather heavy though it arrived with minimal damage.

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At first glance, things appeared fine.  The toilet paper and chips were not crushed.  Items were grouped into two compartments.  Unfortunately, once I started to remove items from the left side of the box, I noticed everything was sticky.  I assumed something must’ve leaked.  Sadly, two items had.  The detergent had a small crack in the bottom and the soup box had been malformed to the point of leakage.

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Oh, the carnage!  Someone has shot my soup!  Who would do such a thing?  I suspect Chef Boyardee.

Sadly, I think local groceries don’t have much to fear from PrimePantry quite yet.  The prices were nothing special and waiting 4 days is a little too long for most people.  The potential shipping problems are obvious.  I suspect this is currently just an experiment for Amazon which is why they’ve limited it to Prime members.  There are rumors that Amazon is looking into becoming their own delivery service which would replace the likes of UPS who delivered this order.  When and if that happens, Amazon might be able to provide the delicate care such a delivery needs.  In the meantime, its hard to recommend.

 

Retire Your Windows XP Computer

It’s almost time to retire your Windows XP computer. On April 8, Microsoft will stop patching Windows XP with security updates. This means that it could be insecure computer when connected to the Internet.

XP has lived a good life. But if you’re still running it on an old computer, consider upgrading. Now you have more choices than ever. You could get a PC (with Windows 7 or 8), a Mac, an iPad, or a Chromebook. Or, if you  want to save some money, you could install Linux on your existing Windows XP computer for a fast secure web browsing computer.

Buying A TV

TV Advice

Buying a TV can be quite intimidating. When clients ask me what to get, here’s what I usually recommend.

Go to a big box store (Costco, Sams) since they have an excellent return policy, good prices, and they don’t try to give you terrible upsells and warranties. If you want the best value, look at Vizios. If you want the best TV and picture look at Samsungs. They cost more, but are the best displays for most people’s needs.

Projectors

If you want a big TV and you have good light control in the room, meaning that you can make it dark, consider getting a front projector. You can get an excellent projector that will give you a 100+ inch screen for $1400. This takes a little more work since you need to position the projector, get a screen, and focus the projector. But it’s the only cost effective way to get a screen over 75 inches.

Plasmas

The Vizios and Samsungs mentioned above are LCDs. If you are big into sports and you appreciate the more active (slightly less ghosty) look, consider getting a plasma TV over LCD. Modern LCDs are great and have largely done away with the ghosting problems. Most people never notice any image issues. But many video professionals still prefer the look of plasmas. Plasma images are dimmer so they aren’t as good in well lit areas as LCDs.  They are thicker and heavier than LCDs.

Panasonic makes the best plasmas. A couple of years ago Pioneer’s Kurio was the best, but Pioneer stopped making it and sold the technology to Panasonic.

Don’t Fall for the Upsell

Remember that TVs are warrantied by the manufacturer so you don’t need to buy an extended warranty. And you can get great HDMI and other cables at reasonable prices from monoprice.com.

made2dock dock-IN-case

made2dock makes some pretty good docks for the iPhone 4/S called dock-IN-case. There are these two models (Original and Slant) and a desk model that fits neatly in the cable hole in your desk. All models are heavy and well made. The Original is a bit heavier making it easier to pull out of the dock with one hand.

What really sets this dock apart are the sizing options to fit many different sized cases and bumpers.