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Debbie Lee Wesselmann (the Lehigh Valley, PA)

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Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera (Black) wih ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology
Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera (Black) wih ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology
Offered by Smart Shop UK
Price: £89.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Know What You'll Get to Avoid Disappointment, 4 Feb. 2016
As long as you understand what you're getting with the Polaroid Snap and still want it, you're unlikely to be disappointed. It's a more modern take on old-style cameras that didn't reveal what you had snapped until the film was processed or, in the case of real Polaroids, what developed before your eyes. You take a photo, and the camera prints it on a 2" x 3" paper that comes out from a lot on the side. You get instant, glossy prints that have a backing that can make each into a sticker.

Unlike other digital cameras, the Snap doesn't have an LED screen toreview photos both before you shoot and before you print. Instead, it has a small viewfinder that approximates the frame of your photo. There's a bit of a learning curve if you like to take close photos since the distance from the lens to the viewfinder is such that you can cut off the top of your subject. The camera does not have a zoom. It is a basic snapshot camera with an instant print feature. Although everything you take will print -- no take-backs -- you may insert a microSD card (not included) to store what you've shot. You don't need a memory card, though, to use the camera since it has just enough internal memory to store the photo before it prints.

The cool part of the technology is the Zink (zero ink) paper that prints your photo on paper roughly the size of a business card without using ink. You don't add cartridges or anything else -- just a pack (10 sheets) of Zink paper. The camera does NOT come with paper, so make sure you buy some packs when you purchase it. As mentioned above, the paper has a removable backing to turn your little photos into stickers.

The camera has a magnetically attached lens cap. Unfortunately, just like in the old days, you can take a snapshot without realizing that the lens cap is on because it doesn't obstruct your view. Although the Snap has few features, it does have a color setting (full color, black-and-white, and sepia) and a 10-second timer. It has a hole on the bottom for a screw-mount tripod. It does not have a flash, but it can take indoor photos as long as a room is adequately lit.

The Polaroid Snap is definitely not for everybody. It is a limited-use, special-purpose camera that is perfect for situations when you want to be able to hand people their photographs or to turn snapshots into stickers. It's a fun accessory for parties, classrooms, and hanging with friends. I imagine that its greatest fans will be teens, college students, and teachers. Note: I received a free sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Digital Cooking Thermometer - Monitor up to 4 Probes Simultaneously - Compatible with Most iOS & Android Phones - Great for BBQ, Smoker, Grill, Oven, Meat and Food - WHITE
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Digital Cooking Thermometer - Monitor up to 4 Probes Simultaneously - Compatible with Most iOS & Android Phones - Great for BBQ, Smoker, Grill, Oven, Meat and Food - WHITE
Offered by Smart Shop UK
Price: £59.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precise Readings and Alerts, With Somewhat Quirky App Control (5- Stars), 23 May 2015
Although the app for this thermometer is not as good as it could be, the thermometer itself is wonderful. I love that this barbecue thermometer can monitor four different meats and alert me when four different donenesses are achieved. This comes with only two probes, though, so you'll have to purchase extras if you want to go that far.

The temperature readings are precise. This must be used with a smart phone or tablet app to be effective, however, even though the temperatures for each probe will be displayed. You just can't set alarms without the app, and for many, this will be a huge drawback. Others will find it expected and welcome. I downloaded the Maverick RediCheck app from the iTunes App store, and it quickly became apparent that, even though the app is fully functional, it could be made better. To use the app, you have to find your way around it by trial-and-error. At first, I couldn't figure out how to change the preset "Beef Well Done" to "Beef Medium Rare" or to the promised ability to set a custom temperature to achieve, say, rare-plus. An email to the company resulted in a response about 48 hours later that all I needed to do was touch the center of the screen to access the temperature settings. (Surprise -- it wasn't under "Setting.") Once I did that, I was pleasantly surprised by all the variations available to me, not that I would use even most of them: beef, veal, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, deer, elk, moose, buffalo, rabbit, boar, duck, "bird," BBQ, and "others." Each kind of meat has a breakdown of internal donenesses, although many are limited except through access of the customized temperature. For example, duck can only be cooked rare, not medium-rare or anything else, and chicken can only be cooked to well-done. These presets and customized temperatures can be achieved only through the app and with the thermometer turned on and connected to at least one probe.

The thermometer can also be set with a countdown timer or a stop watch. I like that, if I have my iPhone on silent, I get both a visible notification on the phone and a beep alert on the thermometer itself. The Bluetooth range is quite good, too. Instead of the usual 33 ft of many Bluetooth devices, this one can technically reach 160'. I didn't test that far, but I was able to go inside and move around my house.

Although the wires are rated to withstand heat up to 572 degrees, the thermometer itself is plastic. You don't want to position it too close to the heat source. With probe wires about 3 feet long, that shouldn't be an issue with most grills, although large ones with meat spread out across the surface could pose an issue. It takes two AAA batteries, not included.

Despite the lack of app instructions, this is an excellent aid for the grill or smoker. It's less useful in the oven since you won't be able to close the door completely because of the wire and because you'll need a place to rest the thermometer itself. Still, I tried it in my oven with the unit dangling down the side, and it worked well. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


Polaroid Socialmatic Camera white
Polaroid Socialmatic Camera white

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Polaroid on Steroids, With Some Issues (4- Stars), 9 Feb. 2015
The Polaroid Socialmatic is one of those quirky tech devices that some people will love and others will shrug off. It combines a camera, Android tablet, and printer in a single, jumbo body that can stand upright on a flat surface. You can post selfies or other photos to social media, or you can print out business-card-size photos/stickers on the spot. The real hang-up for most people will be the user interface since this camera comes with almost no instructions and a touch keyboard that isn't very responsive. But the novelty factor is huge. If you are seen anywhere in public with one of these, people will flock to you to ask what the heck it is.

The Socialmatic is shockingly large if you're expecting just another digital camera or a thin tablet. It measures roughly 5.25" square and just over an inch thick. The viewable portion of the LCD screen is about 4" x 2" - not a big screen for a tablet but a large one for a camera. It has a 14 MP front-facing camera and a lower resolution rear-facing camera; I don't know the sensor size. It also has a slot for a microSD card to expand the 4GB internal memory or for a WiFi card. It has built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and QR Code capabilities, with a tethering/personal hotspot setting if you insert a WiFi data card. You can use it right out of the box since it arrives with a partial charge and has the built-in memory.

Because this is a Polaroid and because it's marketed as a camera, the photographic software is feature-rich. You can crop, adjust exposure, change the orientation, add special effects, touch up, add text, and fix red-eye all from the touch screen. The interface is awkward, though, and editing on the screen can be a chore if you do a lot of things to the photo. You also add a QR code after you've edited. I haven't found a way (yet) to move the QR code on the image or to change the location of the text on the photograph itself (nothing like a QR code on someone's face). When I scan the QR code, I get nothing but random letters. I don't see a way to embed information (I was expected location) in the QR code. Without directions on how to use the QR code, I'm lost.

To take a photo, you can either press the large button on top of the Socialmatic or use the touch button on the screen. As with most smart phones and some digital cameras, you can tap to focus on a specific area. The camera itself is slow, so don't expect to take great photos of moving objects, fidgety kids, or pets. There's a time lag, about a second, although it can take up to 4 seconds, especially if the camera has struggled to focus, for the image to appear fixed on the LCD screen. I often find myself moving the camera before it has actually taken the photo, which, of course, results in NOT the photo I wanted to take. It does have a bright LED flash which works well to illuminate faces and close objects, and a timer for you to move into a group shot. Oddly, it does not have a connection for a tripod, although it's thick and flat enough to rest on a table or wall. This shoots video as well as still shots.

The touch keyboard is especially frustrating. It takes forever for me to write a single sentence caption for, say, Facebook sharing because I have to touch above the letter. I find myself unintentionally backspacing and hitting return. And entering passwords is a royal pain. It's too easy to hit the wrong key. Because of its Bluetooth capabilities, I recommend pairing it with a Bluetooth keyboard if you plan to use it for email, web searches, or even social media comments. I would expect future firmware updates to perhaps fix this issue, although the keyboard will always remain small.

The printer part is really cool since it does not use printer ink but instead a technology called Zink (for "zero ink.') It takes about 30 seconds to print a glossy photograph in a 2" x 3" format with removable backing to become a sticker. This special paper is pretty pricey - right now from between $0.30 to $0.50 a sheet, depending on how many you buy. The camera holds 10 sheets at a time, and the stack of 10 must be inserted with the blue dummy initializing paper at the bottom, facing down; otherwise, it won't work. (The paper is expelled during the initialization process.) The photographs won't smear, not even right out of the camera.

For those not familiar with the Android platform, the Socialmatic can be confusing from the beginning. For instance, if I didn't know that to unlock I had to swipe to the left, I never would have been able to access the camera. There's no icon or arrow to direct you. (You can change how to unlock it from the security settings.) Once you unlock it, I recommend just playing around with the screen until you know mostly where everything is.

Sharing doesn't work as well it should, and it's not easy to figure out how to access that feature anyway. I tried several times to share via Facebook, and all times the camera failed. I got a message that I was connected to Facebook, but as soon as I tried to post, I got a message saying that it was NOT posted. I was able to share through the GooglePlay's Facebook app, however, without any issues.

The battery life seems pretty good. I can play around with it for hours without depleting the battery.

Because I've been testing a pre-release Socialmatic, my guess is that the company will issue some firmware updates to address certain issues such as the off-kilter touch keyboard and the failure to consistently post to social media. I also expect an online manual (I was unable to locate one) once the product has been officially released. It would be great to have a tutorial about how to access and use the features. Early adopters will have to make do if they want the latest and greatest ASAP. Others should wait until reviews are consistently 4- or 5-stars to indicate that problems have been fixed. The potential is definitely there.

The only thing the Socialmatic can do that a smart phone cannot is print photos right after you've taken them. This is huge even though the photos themselves are tiny. Although I don't love the user interface, I love the concept. I suspect it will be a hit at family gatherings and friends' night-out. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


Polaroid Cube HD 1080p Lifestyle Action Video Camera (Black)
Polaroid Cube HD 1080p Lifestyle Action Video Camera (Black)
Offered by TUFFskinz
Price: £77.99

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tons of Fun! A Tiny Action Camera, 7 Oct. 2014
This cute little camera is a blast, as long as you know what to expect. For instance, it doesn't have a viewfinder -- otherwise, it couldn't possibly be this small -- so you can never be sure what you're recording. And its user interface is as simple and as no-frills as possible. Once you get used to these things, the Cube will go everywhere you go.

Because the Cube has such a wide angle lens, you really do get more in the picture that you might expect. It has the typical curved and distorted borders of a quasi-fish-eye lens (you won't get the round frame, however), and it takes in stuff well above and below the camera. It's weatherproof -- not waterproof -- which makes it suitable to most outside uses, short of taking it underwater. The back screws off, with the help of a quarter, to reveal the microUSB charging port, memory card slot, and the switch to select 720p or 1080p resolution. The Cube uses a microSDHC card, up to 32GB -- and the card is not included, a major oversight by Polaroid since you cannot use the Cube out of the box without one.

The magnet is incredibly strong, so you shouldn't have to worry about knocking it off its mount unless it takes a blow. The sound is pretty good, and the video is even better. Still photos are blah.

The only real issue I had with the camera is with the software. I have a Mac, and the camera connects easily to my computer using either in the short microUSB cable or a longer one. Video and photos upload to iPhoto. That said, I cannot access the software to adjust the settings. Even though my Cube is successfully connected to my computer to upload video, I get an error message saying that it is not connected. Bummer. But accessing the limited settings is in no way critical to enjoying the Cube.

I love this little guy. At roughly 1.25" cubed, it fits in my pocket, my palm, or wherever I want to put it. If you attach it to your bike helmet (or whatever), you'll forget it's there. I'm impressed that I can have such a blast with a camera that has only one button and no visible way to see what I'm filming. In fact, seeing what I captured is part of the fun. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2014 8:18 PM GMT


Ivation Water Resistant Shockproof Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker w/IPX7 Waterproofing for Full Immersion in Water, Handsfree Portable Speakerphone with Built-in Mic, 6hrs of playtime, Control Buttons - Enjoy Your Music & Phone Calls in True Stereo - Rugged, Shockproof Enclosure & Integrated Buttons (Orange)
Ivation Water Resistant Shockproof Bluetooth 4.0 Speaker w/IPX7 Waterproofing for Full Immersion in Water, Handsfree Portable Speakerphone with Built-in Mic, 6hrs of playtime, Control Buttons - Enjoy Your Music & Phone Calls in True Stereo - Rugged, Shockproof Enclosure & Integrated Buttons (Orange)

5.0 out of 5 stars Rugged Little Speaker For a Variety of Spaces, 9 Sept. 2014
This is a great little Bluetooth speaker -- and it's water resistant to boot, making it an excellent choice for outdoor use: pool-side, while camping, on the patio, wherever you want to take your music. At roughly 5.5" x 3.5" x 2.25", you can easily stash it in a backpack or beach tote. Because it runs on a rechargeable internal battery, you don't need outlets nearby.

The sound quality is clear with a slight emphasis on the bass, which gives the impression of warm tones to music. This little speaker can be powerful or quiet; sound remains clear whether played on low volume or maximum. When nothing is being played through it, there is a hiss, which might be heard by those with excellent ears even when music is playing. For me, though, the hiss disappears as soon as the music starts.

The construction is quite rugged. The exterior materials are rubberized plastic, hard plastic, and metal (for the grille.) The volume and play buttons are on top under the water resistant rubberized plastic. As with most Bluetooth speakers, this one is charged via micro-USB cable (included) either through the USB port on your computer or through a USB power outlet/car adapter. The included ribbon-style cable is higher quality than you usually get with speakers such as this. The rubberized plug that covers the charging port must be securely in place for this to remain waterproof.

This speaker would be at home in a dorm room, beach, campground, or bathroom. It delivers pretty big sound for its size, making it a compact addition to a small space. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


1byone cable 0271
1byone cable 0271

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sleek Battery Case With Minimal Bulk, 21 Aug. 2014
This review is from: 1byone cable 0271 (Electronics)
Because I often find myself low on battery power during the day, I almost always keep my iPhone 5 in a charger case, and this 1Byone version has become my favorite due to its shorter length. It adds only about 3/8" in length and maybe 1/4" in thickness. And it makes my phone looks sleek despite the addition of that extra battery.

The charger case uses a top/bottom construction -- that is, the phone slides into the bottom/battery with its lightning connection, and then it is secured when you snap a top piece into place that also covers the sides. You charge it using the included (or any other) micro-USB cable.

It comes with two bands: a black translucent (for the gray/black version) and a clear (for the white.) Also included is an audio jack extender in case your brand of headphones does not have a slim enough connection.

I love that charging can be activated at will. All I need to do is hold down the charge button to turn it on. I turn it off using the same method. This allows me to save the charge for emergencies instead of using it up during the course of the day. The 2400 mAh battery will charge my phone about 1.5 times, although, because I usually don't wait until the phone shuts down, it feels more like twice. The back has four tiny, blue LED lights to indicate remaining charge.

This 1Byone battery case is the slimmest and lightest phone case I've used. Yes, it will add bulk to your phone. After all, you ARE carrying around an extra battery plus case protection. But it is still much better than the previous case I was using. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


Expower(R) Solar Panel Rain Resist shockproof Charger 6000mAh Portable Charger Backup External Battery Power Pack for iPhone 6 Plus 6 5S 5C 5 4S 4, iPad Air, Other iPads, iPods(Apple Adapters not Included), Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 3, Note 2, Most Kinds of Android Smart Phones and More Other Devices (Blue)
Expower(R) Solar Panel Rain Resist shockproof Charger 6000mAh Portable Charger Backup External Battery Power Pack for iPhone 6 Plus 6 5S 5C 5 4S 4, iPad Air, Other iPads, iPods(Apple Adapters not Included), Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 3, Note 2, Most Kinds of Android Smart Phones and More Other Devices (Blue)
Offered by Smart techonology

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Emergency Battery, But Not Necessarily Waterproof, 17 Aug. 2014
External batteries are a must in my electronic-dependent life, and the addition of emergency solar charging makes this Expower power bank a real winner. Yes, the solar power panel is not as efficient as charging it via wall outlet or computer, but I was able to get a 1/4 charge in a few hours of direct sunlight, something that could be a lifesaver for a camper or hiker or anyone in the midst of a long power outage. With 5000 mAh of battery power, this has the ability to fully charge smart phones at least twice, depending on the phone. (Note: power attrition rates lower the actual available power for all external batteries. This one will charge my iPhone 5 with its 1440 mAh battery about two times, with a little power left over.)

My main concern with this battery -- and it doesn't limit the performance -- is the claim that it's waterproof. When I charge the battery in the summer sun, the plastic case buckles in the heat, and it separates on one side. It is impossible to snap the case together. When it cools, however, the case once again fits in place. The problem is that there is nothing between the case and the inner workings of the battery. The electronics are exposed as soon as the case is compromised. Even when the case seems to be tightly connected, I can see little gaps where water could get in. I would say that this battery may be somewhat water resistant, but not waterproof. If you are looking for an external battery to take, say, whitewater rafting, you may not be able to depend on it. Otherwise, this is a fine battery.

This charger comes with a carabiner-style clip (make sure the rubberized oval is securely back in place in the oval after you attach the clip), a short micro-USB to USB cable, and an old-style Apple adapter. The battery can be charged via USB or, in an emergency, partially charged in the sun. If you have a newer Apple lightning cable device, you'll have to supply your own charging cable.

This external power bank is a great choice for emergency power as long as you don't count on it to be waterproof. Note: I received a sample for review.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


FRiEQ® Hi-Speed Extra Long (6 Ft/1.8m) Nylon Braided Tangle-Free USB 2.0 Micro USB Charging/Sync Cable For Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, Note 2, HTC, Motorola, LG, PS4, Xbox one (Light Blue/Yellow)
FRiEQ® Hi-Speed Extra Long (6 Ft/1.8m) Nylon Braided Tangle-Free USB 2.0 Micro USB Charging/Sync Cable For Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, Note 2, HTC, Motorola, LG, PS4, Xbox one (Light Blue/Yellow)
Offered by T.M. Enterprise
Price: £19.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frieq-ing Nice USB-to-microUSB Cable, 1 Oct. 2013
I use so many USB-to-microUSB cables that I've begun to have a few favorites, and I now count this Frieq cable among them. The cloth jacketed cable (more on the wrap later) doesn't tangle, and it curls nicely into a coil for storage. It charges everything I need -- Kindle, Bluetooth headset, external batteries -- without problem. I like the six-foot length, too, for when I want to use a device that I'm in the process of charging, although the length can have its issues when you don't need the length; I leave mine coiled when I'm charging on my desk. The connections between cable and ends seems sturdy, unlike some of my other cables. The wrap protects the inner wire by preventing kinks and inhibiting damage from sharp objects.

For better or worse, this is not a stealth cable. Although the bright blue and yellow colors make it easy to find in my bag of cables, the cable is not exactly the kind of low-key look most of us have come to expect with electronic accessories. In general, Frieq's products tend toward a more edgy look (think of the name), and this cable makes its statement with the colors. After all, the cable would work just as well with a black fabric wrap. I happen to like it, but not everyone will. (Note: I received a sample for review.)

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann


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