Kyocera 8” Professional Chef’s Knife Review

Kyocera 8” Professional Chef’s Knife Review

The Kyocera 8 Inch Professional Chef’s Knife is a ceramic knife for clean cuts and a sharp edge that lasts far longer than conventional steel knives.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

I’ve had the Kyocera paring knife for a few years and recently noticed it could use a little sharpening but has stayed sharp far longer than my steel knives. I routinely sharpen my kitchen knives to keep them cutting and slicing easily and quickly but my ceramic knives don’t need it nearly as often.

Kyocera has sent me another tool for cooking that fits right in with my vacant spot with their 8 Inch Professional Chef’s Knife. Kyocera Advanced Ceramics has been making ceramic knives for a few years now and are a leader in ceramic cutlery.

The Kyocera Professional Chef’s Knife is a full sized kitchen knife for general cutting and slicing of fruit, vegetables and meat along with other foods. Bread dough is one thing my wife and I have been dealing with a lot lately with our farmers market and steel cuts but the dough sticks a lot to the blade.

Kyocera 8 Inch Chef's Knife
Kyocera 8 Inch Chef’s Knife

A ceramic knife does not stick nearly as much to bread dough so that is only one of the advantages of a ceramic knife. Staying sharp, does not rust or transfer bad taste to foods are some of the other features ceramic knives are known for.

The main advantage I have seen with ceramic knives is the sharp blade that keeps its edge for much longer than a steel blade. Food like lettuce and bananas are also affected by steel blades and will start to oxidize quicker from the steel ions getting on the vegetables and fruit.

Ceramic does not affect food in any way other than the cut because the material is chemically inert and will not affect food. There is a trade off with using ceramic knives with the care needed to keep your knife in top condition by not dropping the knife and not using it on hard foods like bone or frozen foods.

slicing meat
Slicing Meat

The Kyocera chef’s knife has a contoured grip made from a hard plastic and the blade right in front of this is flat for protection. The blade is sharpened from the grip all the way around the tip so you can use the tip to cut with like I do in my video to peel a banana.

The blade is sharp and will cut both delicate items like tomatoes and skin fish as well as cut tough things like pineapple. I have used the knife to cut fresh bread which is does fairly well mainly because it is sharp but you should really use a serrated bread knife for bread.

I did cut fish and other meats and the blade does not pick up the smell from foods like steel can that requires a good cleaning after. I have used it for the delicate work of cutting up herbs for dehydrating like fennel fronds and it does very well to cut all the way through on a single stroke.

bowls of onions
Bowls of Onions

The Kyocera ceramic chef’s knife is a great knife for kitchen work and does not require a professional chef to admire its fine qualities. I truly enjoy a good nkife when working in the kitchen and have come to like ceramic knives once I got over the fear of dropping it.

I highly recommend the Kyocera 8 Inch Professional Chef’s Knife as a great everyday kitchen tool that will remain sharp much longer than traditional steel knives. The Kyocera ceramic 8 inch chef’s knife is available at the Kyocera Advanced Ceramics website and kitchen supply stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $80.

slices peppers easily
Slices Peppers Easily

Kyocera 8 inch chefs knife @ Kyocera advanced ceramics

Kyocera 8 inch chefs knife @ bed bath & beyond

Pros
Stays sharp longer than steel
Does not impart flavor or alter taste of food
Wont rust
Light weight

Cons
Blade may chip and break if misused or dropped

Ronco Ready Grill Review

Ronco Ready Grill Review

The Ronco Ready Grill is a fantastic kitchen appliance for cooking meats, vegetables and small meals with a stand up grill basket and 1300 watt heating elements.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Total: 4/5

The first time I pulled the Ronco Ready Grill from its box the same thought of a toaster without the popup mechanism again came to mind. The Ronco Ready Grill seams so much like a toaster the resemblance is uncanny but this works much the same way.

The Ready Grill is a simple appliance with four heating elements inside, they may be one elements simply wrapped around the inside as well. Food is inserted into a basket and grilled inside the grill for meals or one part of a meal.

ronco ready grill
Ronco Ready Grill

The Ronco Ready Grill has four side pieces and a bottom tray to contain drips and spatter to keep the inside clean as well as a wire basket. All the parts of the grill are stainless steel except the bottom of the tray that is a heat resistant plastic.

The basket holds your food and has three clamps on the bottom that hold the two sides together and has heat proof handles. The basket slides into the grill and is held shut by the spring steel clamps on the side pieces to keep it closed while in the grill.

ready grill vs pan
Ready Grill vs Pan

The 1300 watt heating element has a timer control to shut it off and can go from zero to 30 minutes so you can time you’re cooking. The timer also ensures you don’t forget your cooking and cause a disaster because it will shut off after the timer runs out.

I have cooked chicken, fish, beef and pork in the grill with great success while vegetables are not as good but they do cook without adding fat or oil. Potatoes and other slices vegetables work well but some vegetables like carrots are just too odd shaped.

hamburgers
Hamburgers

One secret to even cooking is a little experimentation and common sense to understand that meat will cook at a different rate than vegetables. You need to balance the cooking times or make sure the vegetables are sliced the proper thickness when cooking with meats at the same time.

Meats alone are where the Ronco Ready Grill really stands out and this is my main recommendation as meats are excellent in the grill. The juices drain to the bottom for easy collection but the searing does lock in the juices for tender meat.

easy brats
Easy Brats

I was very surprised not to see more drippings from hamburgers when I cooked them in the Ronco Ready Grill as there was very little during cooking. When I cooked some hamburgers alongside the ready grill in a press grill there were less juices coming out of the Ronco Ready Grill.

The Ronco Ready Grill is not perfect and it does an excellent job of cooing meats alone but for meals you need to practice. The grill does a great job for smaller meals or single items but does fall short for larger families trying to prepare whole meals.

ready to wash
Ready to Wash

I highly recommend the Ronco Ready Grill for a great appliance for cooking smaller meals but especially meats like fresh salmon.

Ronco Ready Grill Website

Ronco Ready Grill @ HSN

Pros
Cooks easily in small space
Excellent for fish and other meats
Easy to clean removable parts

Cons
Not so great at cooking meals
Smaller size may not cook meals for larger families

Imprint CumulusPRO Comfort Mat

Imprint CumulusPRO Comfort Mat

The Imprint CumulusPRO is a fantastic comfort mat for preventing foot and back pain while having to stand for hours on end at a counter or standing desk.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

imprint cumuluspro comfort mat
CumulusPRO by Imprint

Quality comes first in my mind when spending money and I have come to appreciate spending the extra money to get top quality products. Spending a few extra dollars to get a mat to stand on hours at a time is money well spent because pain and fatigue are no fun.

When researching comfort mats which are also called anti-fatigue mats many of the top contenders are under $100 but there are several over this price. I just hate to think about spending more than a hundred dollars for a mat that sits on my kitchen floor.

I asked several companies and only got one to respond with a product sample and this company has me sold on buying from them in the future. I need some more mats for my kitchen and the CumulusPRO is going to be that comfort mat for several reasons.

Imprint CumulusPRO
Imprint CumulusPRO

The CumulusPRO has a ten year warranty which is the highest I could find for these mats and they are made from a single material. Polyurethane foam is used in the construction and Imprint uses the term Cushion Core Technology to describe their process.

The side view of one of these comfort mats shows the outer edges of the mat are a denser material than the center which gives it a resilient bounce back property. This also means a tougher outer shell while still maintaining that soft comfort for hours of standing.

The home version called Cumulus9 is made from different pieces of materials and glued together which in my eyes is a bad thing. Glues age over time and lose their binding properties so a one piece technology is the best for having a product for years of wear.

top and bottom of comfort mat
Top and Bottom

The CumulusPRO comes in four colors and two different patterns or simply plain with all models having a beveled edge that reduces the tripping hazard. The design prevents curling at the edges and the mats material makes it naturally no slip on top and bottom.

The comfort mat will not move once you place it and the top remains nonskid even with liquids and ingredients like flour spilled on it. I have been using my CumulusPRO for a few weeks while baking and cooking and the mat has remained unscarred.

I have dropped utensils on the mat and there are no marks to show but the real test is the two cats and dog that also reside with us. I have witnessed the animals tearing through the kitchen and have found no holes or scratches in the mat that they routinely careen over.

cumuluspro anti-fatigue mat in my kitchen
CumulusPRO Comfort Mat in my kitchen

The cats especially have not used the mat for a scratching post for whatever reason which was my major concern when looking at comfort mats. We already have a bed and couch that are routinely used for sharpening claws along with the ones we want them to use and I don’t need another one.

The major test for an anti-fatigue mat is the use and I had no problems baking and cooking while using the mat for hours on end. In the past few months I have had increasing leg pains and I realized it was because of the hours in the kitchen that I had not been doing before my leg pains started.

The CumulusPRO has proven itself as an effective comfort mat and has reduced the pain in my legs from standing at the counter a couple days a week. I have really enjoyed reviewing the CumulusPRO comfort mat and will be buying another one to use in front of my sink.

The most comprehensive review I could find on anti-fatigue mats was from another site and they have had these mats forsix months without problems. They recommend the CumulusPRO as much as I do and without hesitation because they perform so well while simply lying on the floor.

I highly recommend the CumulusPRO comfort mat from Imprint as a fantastic comfort or anti-fatigue mat that will last for years guaranteed.

CumulusPRO @ Imprint

CumulusPRO @ Amazon

Pros
Soft yet resilient
Beveled edges prevent tripping
Resists cuts and claws
Decent price
10 Year Warranty

Cons
None

Thecus N2310 NAS Server Review

Thecus N2310 NAS Server Review

The Thecus N2310 NAS Server is a great home or small business server that allows for fast backup and network storage that is very affordable.

Ease of Use, Performance:  3/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy:  3/5

Recommendation:  4/5 Stars

Thecus N2310 w/ Western Digital Drives
Thecus N2310 w/ Western Digital Drives

The Thecus N2310 NAS Server is a network attached storage device that allows you to use one or two solid state or hard disc drives to connect as network based storage. The N2310 comes as a two disc drive container that attaches to your network using the rear network connection.

You can also connect other devices like USB hard drives or printers using the two rear USB connections with one being 2.0 and the other 3.0 USB connections. The Thecus N2310 is easy to install with the included CD having the setup instructions, a setup wizard and all the drivers the device requires.

After setup you have a browser based control panel to the Thecus operating system where you control the device and all your apps including 3rd party ones. The regular apps from Thecus work very well for backup, connecting to the NAS device and even handle bit torrent downloading.

drive trays
Drive Trays

You can set up two drives in Raid configuration so the backup and data is always duplicated or use two drives in tandem for a lot of storage. You can use the Thecus N2310 to store data and media, backup files, handle bit torrent downloading and access files from anywhere you can get an internet connection.

The Thecus apps contain enough control and access to handle any small business files as well as the things like backup and downloading bit torrent files. Setup only takes a few minutes for the basic single drive or Raid drives but getting a few things like smartphone or tablet access might take longer.

I had a few problems with the setup trying to get my smartphone and tablet to access the files I stored but eventually did figure things out. I did have a little trouble finding out exactly what t use for a network address when connecting my tablet but I did figure things out.

rear of n2310
Rear of N2310

Thecus does have an app for watching streaming video called Plex as well as listening to audio but the streaming video did not work on any of my setups. I tried accessing the files directly on my home network which worked just fine to play a video on my computer that was stored on the Thecus N2310.

When trying to access the same video through the Plex app from my tablet or PlayStation 3 connected to my TV the video skipped and has other problems that made it unwatchable. Streaming audio to listen to music stored on the N2310 worked just fine so the problem I feel is just not enough horsepower in the NAS device or the app itself.

The N2310 has an internal processor but it is only a single core and 800 MHz so it is limited in what it can do but they did keep this at a very reasonable price. The N2310 costs about $140 and is available from websites like Newegg and Amazon but you will also need to buy or have a hard drive to put in it.

thecus control panel
Thecus Control Panel

At this low a price you would not expect much in the way of features and after testing using the Intel NAS Performance Kit found that NAS was plenty responsive. The Thecus N2310 NAS Server worked well and for the price you cannot beat this for a home or small business server for data and files.

I highly recommend the Thecus N2310 for a small business or home network storage device that works well for backup and data storage.

Thecus Video

Thecus N2310 Website

Thecus N2310 @ Amazon

Pros
Easy and fast setup
Apps are easy to access and use
Audio streaming works well
Backup and restore is simple and works effortlessly

Cons
Media Streaming does not work well enough
Some setup may require a bit of help

ThermoWorks Splash Proof Super-Fast Thermapen

ThermoWorks Splash Proof Super-Fast Thermapen

The ThermoWorks Thermapen is the perfect way to make sure your food is at the right temperature for roasting, grilling, baking and especially when cooking candy.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Total: 5/5

The kitchen thermometer has evolved over the years from a finger to the most modern electronics with the instant read thermometer now being a must have kitchen device. The ThermoWorks Thermapen is a must have kitchen utensil for both professionals and home cooks.

The Thermapen is a simple to use instant read thermometer that simply turns on when you swing out the probe and you just insert into your food to check the temperature. The Thermapen works using a thermocouple that is in the very tip of the probe.

The thermocouple is a more accurate way to measure temperature than the usual thermistor which is a much cheaper device commonly used in kitchen thermometers. The thermocouple is more accurate, sensing changes in temperature faster and has a wider range than thermistors.

thermoworks thermapen
ThermoWorks Thermapen

ThermoWorks has been making thermometers for kitchen use for years and their Thermapen is now their most popular model with both professionals and home cooks praising its features. I even found a computer website, PCMag.com, that reviewed the Thermapen including it in their digital home category.

The Thermapen has a range from -58 degrees to 572 degrees Fahrenheit which is the widest I have seen for kitchen thermometers. The Thermapen comes with a certificate of calibration and is accurate to .7 degrees which is more common in scientific measuring devices instead of home cooking utensils.

Others have praised the ease of use, small probe tip and fast reading but now it’s my turn and the Thermapen really does make a fantastic kitchen thermometer. The Thermapen has a very small tip for the first ½ inch so it is easy to insert and leaves a smaller hole than other thermometers.

whats in the box
Whats in the Box

The probe allows you to easily measure the temperature of thinner foods like hamburgers easily even when they’re in a grill or something like the Ronco Ready Grill. The Thermapen reads very quickly and allows you to get a reading on your food so you don’t waste heat from your oven or grill.

This instant read is also very important for cooking candy where an exact temperature means the difference between gummy brown stuff and peanut brittle. The meat is also an area of cooking where the instant read is a must have for getting the proper temperature and how well done your steaks, chops and roasts are.

The Thermapen also has a switch under the rear battery cover that changes the thermometer from Fahrenheit to Celsius and turns off the auto off feature. You can also change the reading from no decimal point to adding a decimal and tenths to the reading.

battery compartment
Battery Compartment

The fourth switch under the cover is to adjust the thermometer by as much as 3.6 degrees if you find it is reading off for a quick at home adjustment. You can find out if your Thermapen is working correctly by testing it in a cold water bath of ice cubes and enough water to fill the spaces between them.

Ice water very near the cubes will be 32 degrees Fahrenheit exactly so just set the probe in a glass of ice water to check your thermometer. You can also compare your current temperature devices at home to see how they are working for you and how accurate they are using this method.

The Thermapen really makes taking your foods temperature a breeze and helps to make your cooking more professional and enjoyable. No bothering with probes at the ends of cables or waiting with your hand and face near the oven as the heat wafts out into your kitchen.

Perfect Chicken with the Thermapen
Perfect Chicken with the Thermapen

The Thermapen works well and I had no problems using it at all with cooking in the stove and on it as well as grilling. The only down side to the Thermapen is the price at about $100 but for such an accurate device that reads so quickly this will easily pay for itself in enjoyable and well cooked meals and treats.

I highly recommend the ThermoWorks Thermapen as the perfect temperature gauge for all types of cooking at home and professionally.

Thermapen @ ThermoWorks

Thermapen @ Amazon

Pros
Instant read in 3 seconds
Fold out probe stores and is easy to use
Automatic on off using probe
Auto shut off after ten minutes
Adjustable

Cons
Costs about $100

ROCCAT Kone Pure Mouse & Sense Military Mousepad

ROCCAT Kone Pure Military Mouse & Sense Military Mousepad

The ROCCAT Kone Pure Military is a gaming grade mouse with a Pro-Optic 5000 dpi optical sensor and lift control while the Sense mousepad gives you the perfect surface for your mouse.

Ease of Use, Performance:  5/5
Look & Feel:  5/5
Features:  5/5
How much I enjoy:  5/5

Recommendation:  5/5 Stars

roccat kone pure & sense military

The ROCCAT Kone Pure Military is a gaming grade optical mouse that has the usual assorted adjustments and an optical sensor that includes lift control technology. Lift control means you can adjust what height the optical sensor uses from the surface so when the mouse is lifted above this distance the mouse quits reading.

The ROCCAT Kone Pure in military style is available in three color schemes with the stylized ROCCAT logo on the body of each mouse. The logo has LED lighting you can change and 7 mouse buttons along with the scroll wheel that has the middle click button.

The optical sensor onboard the Kone Pure is 5000 dots per inch and adjustable from a low of 50 DPI up to the maximum 5000 DPI for precise adjustment. The sensor range of adjustment makes it great for gaming or other specific uses like image editing or graphics creation.

whats in the box
Whats in the Box

It’s really nice to use a low setting for more precise control in programs like ArtRage for slow controlled movements while drawing. In games you need a good balance between speed and smooth operation while some may prefer the faster movement of a higher DPI.

The Kone Pure comes with a great control program with all the adjustments in four pages while a fifth page has a trophy system and a sixth is for updating. The trophy system rewards the player for clicks and such which is kind of goofy but it is fun and surprising the first time you hear that you won a trophy no matter what you’re doing.

You can turn off this announcement system as well as the verbal notice of settings changes when not using the settings program so you know what settings has been changed. The mouse buttons are all customizable to your particular needs while the settings program has five DPI settings that can be used for quick changes.

ROCCAT Kone Pure
ROCCAT Kone Pure

The ROCCAT settings program can be set up for five profiles for use with specific programs or for button assignments that are specific for different needs. You can also assign a program to a profile so that the program will trigger that profile when you start it up for quick and easy changes to button assignments and other settings.

One technology that ROCCAT has invented that is very handy is Easy Shift[+] which allows an almost full set of extra button assignments. You can assign one of the side buttons as the Easy Shift and when that is held down a new button assignment can be used for the rest of the buttons.

This will almost double the button assignments for more versatility in any program you use but especially ones where a lot of mouse shortcuts would be nice like image editing. The additional button assignments allow you even more features but this is not just for gaming as I found it quite handy for my image editing.

Bottom of Kone Pure
Bottom of Kone Pure

I have found that a gaming mouse is great for use in other programs and really miss the smooth operation and control when I am forced to use other mice. I really like the control and precision I can get form a smooth gaming grade optical sensor in ArtRage while trying to do precision drawing as well.

ROCCAT has also released a line of mousepads that go well with the Kone Pure and match the stylized design of the Military series. The ROCCAT Sense is a 2mm thick 400 by 280 millimeter mouse pad that has a smooth low friction surface and a foam rubber backing.

The Kone Pure pairs well with the Sense mousepad for a fantastic pair of weapons you can use to decimate enemies or to draw them on your choice of art programs. The ROCCAT Sense has remained a smooth surface and does clean well under simple wiping if you do get it dirty.

sense logo and bottom
ROCCAT Sense Logo & Bottom

I have used a general cleaner and paper towels to clean the pad but the mousepad does not collect dust like some other cloth weave fabrics I have had in the past. The ROCCAT Sense performs very well and makes an excellent purchase along with the Kone Pure for a great set of peripherals.

The ROCCAT Kone Pure in military colors costs about $70 while the ROCCAT Sense is a low price of about $20 at stores like GameStop. The ROCCAT Kone Pure is an excellent mouse and easily works well in both gaming and other programs for an easy recommendation in a performance mouse.

Kone Pure @ ROCCAT

Kone Pure @ Amazon

Sense @ ROCCAT

Sense @ GameStop

Pros
Gaming grade optical sensor with smooth control
Customizable buttons with double the available assignments
Lift Control for better usage

Cons
None

Visonicom EZCast WiFi TV Dongle VMD-EZ155 Review

Visonicom EZCast WiFi TV Dongle VMD-EZ155 Review

The Visonicom EZCast VMD-EZ155 is a WiFi domgle that connects an android, iPhone or PC to an HDMI display so you can stream video and audio.

Ease of Use, Performance:  0/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy: 0/5
Recommendation:  0/5 Stars

Visonicom EZCast WiFi Dongle
Visonicom EZCast WiFi Dongle

The Visonicom EZCast VMD-EZ155 is a WiFi dongle that uses the EZCast app to stream video and audio from your PC or handheld device to your TV. The Visicom EZCast uses DLNA, Miracast and Airplay to broadcast over WIFi from a smartphone, tablet or personal computer.

The EZCast VMD-EZ155 uses an android or iPhone app or a computer program to send the signal to the receiver which plugs into your HDMI display or TV. The dongle also has a USB micro B connection for power while the short antenna connects to your network or device.

There are two basic ways the dongle connects to your TV with either a home based network or directly to your computer or laptop using WiFi. Both ways use WiFi to connect the broadcasting device to the TV or monitor while the device gets all its power from the micro USB connection.

The Visonicom dongle uses the EZCast app or program on your device to send the video and audio to your TV with mirroring and extending the display. You can also turn on and off the audio as well as choose which type of media to work with that makes a difference on how well the dongle works.

EZCast Mirror Setup
EZCast Mirror Setup

The EZCast app has a music and video player built in or can use your smart device or computer to play video or just surf the internet. The dongle would be great for presentations or just watching videos form Netflix or YouTube if it worked well but the video just does not work well enough.

Audio works just fine alone and video works fairly well depending on the source and quality while images work perfectly which is all the difference. This type of device needs to work perfectly almost all the time in order to make it worthwhile or it is not really worth the price.

When streaming video for a presentation or for entertainment it needs to be decent without skipping or pausing otherwise it’s not going to be enjoyable or useful. I tried the VMD-EZ155 Dongle from several devices and it did not work very well at all trying to play video from the internet.

I also tried to use my Nexus 7 tablet to stream video to the TV in my living room and video was unwatchable with stuttering and sound cutting in and out. The Visonicom WiFi Dongle is simple to set up but with such poor performance it just is not worth even looking at.

A WiFi dongle needs to work perfectly almost every time or it is just not worth getting and this is one product I would simply go with the top of the line. The Google Chromecast works in much the same way and for only $5 more it offers consistent video play without any problems from what I have seen of my son’s setup.

The Visonicom WMD-EZ155 just does not work nearly well enough for me to even recommend it at all as I could not get it to play video and audio smoothly enough to enjoy. The stuttering and skipping are so bad that I could not watch a six minute video from YouTube and get enough of it to understand what is going on.

The Visonicom WiFi Dongle VMD-EZ155 is not worth even bothering with and I would recommend going with a more mainstream company for your streaming needs.

VMD-EZ155 @ Visonicom

Pros
Easy Setup
Compact device
Uses EZCast App for streaming

Cons
Video and audio skips and cuts out

Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard with Hub

Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard with Hub

The Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard is a regular keyboard for your entertainment use with devices like Xbox, PlayStation and Roku.

Ease of Use, Performance:  3/5
Look & Feel:  4/5
Features:  3/5
How much I enjoy: 3/5
Recommendation:  3/5 Stars

Logitech Harmony Smart Keyboard
Logitech Smart Keyboard

The Harmony Smart Keyboard from Logitech is a new way to control entertainment devices like console game systems and streaming players like the Roku. The Smart Keyboard is available with or without the Hub which is a wireless connection between your network but the hub is required to set up the keyboard.

The Harmony Smart Keyboard connects to your devices through the wireless network you have at home and through infrared using the hub or an infrared receiver. The Harmony Hub connects to your network using Wi-Fi while the keyboard connects to it using Bluetooth with the receiver for in cabinet use of the hub and other devices.

The Smart Keyboard is a great way to type on devices like the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and media streaming devices. Media streaming using the Roku and TiVo work with the Smart Keyboard for an easy way to type in search and for adding email and passwords while signing in.

Whats in the Box Harmony Smart Keyboard
Whats in the Box

The Harmony Smart Keyboard needs a smartphone with android or an iOS to set it up so you do need a smartphone or tablet at least initially. Setup works well but you need to connect a smartphone or tablet to your wifi network so you also need a home network to use the Smart Keyboard.

Once connected and working you can use the Smart Keyboard and the Hub to control your entertainment center like a television and a PlayStation 3. I did have some issues like having to reconnect my tablet every time a certain amount of time passed or when shutting off the system.

When I turned the television or the tablet back on the connection would be gone and I would have to reconnect to the Hub but they did fix this. Since receiving the Harmony Smart Keyboard and Hub I have updated the firmware and that problem is gone but others have crept in.

TV Menu
TV Menu

The system has little issues like power on and off not synching with the television and the Hub where the Hub has forgotten that the TV is on or off. This may not seem like an issue but at times the Hub thinks the TV is off but it is on so you have to navigate to the TV and turn it on or off.

Other times the issue is with the use of the system with a PC like my Windows computer that just does not have the control for watching Netflix. You can use the Smart Keyboard to control a computer but it only works as a keyboard with touchpad instead of being able to perform tasks.

Not to say that they won’t someday but the Harmony Smart Keyboard does not really do much for a computer that a standard keyboard does while the touchpad also only adds so much function. The Smart Keyboard works well with many devices but with others it still has some bugs to work out or just does not work at all.

PC Control
PC Control

The Smart Keyboard costs about $150 with the Hub which is a bit expensive when you’re talking about adding a keyboard to your entertainment system. That may seem like a bit of a pricey keyboard and I would have to agree but for some the features outweigh the price.

The Smart Keyboard does work well but you should make sure your devices work with the keyboard as well as understanding the problems inherent with it. The Smart Keyboard’s touchpad may not work with some smart TV’s as the control may not be used at all because there is no use for a cursor on that particular TV.

For many devices like the PlayStation 3 the Smart Keyboard worked very well and it is handy to use a keyboard with the gaming console. The Keyboard worked just fine for my gaming console but at $150 I had expected it to work better than it does.

The small glitches like having to reconnect and an occasional power synching should not be happening as often as it does but I do expect things to get resolved eventually. The Smart Keyboard with Hub from Logitech may be a bit of an unfinished product but does work well for the devices I tried.

If you are looking for a new keyboard device for your entertainment system the Logitech Smart Keyboard is worth a look to see if it can do what you need. Check out the Logitech Smart Keyboard with Hub for a new way to control yur entertainment system.

Smart Keyboard @ Logitech

Smart Keyboard @ Amazon

Pros
Controls over 225,000 devices
Can Control devices like gaming console and media streamers
Firmware is being updated

Cons
Requires Smartphone, Tablet or iPhone for initial setup
Software may need some upgrades
Lost what power state the TV was on

The Other Woman Blu-ray Review

The Other Woman Blu-ray Review

The Other Woman stars Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton as the three women who are being cheated on but they do get their revenge.

Film making 2/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Bonus Features 1/5
Recommendation 2/5 Stars

the other woman ft

In every affair with a married man there is always that married woman who is being cheated on but in The Other Woman there are three that get together and get even. Mark, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, hooks up with Carly, Cameron Diaz, for a few weeks and suddenly needs to leave town.

She shows up at his house to surprise him and instead finds out he is married to a nice but naïve woman named Kate who is played by Leslie Mann. Carly rushes away horrified to find out that Mark is married but the next day Kate shows up at Carly’s office to get some answers.

Kate is upset that Mark is having an affair and winds up pestering Carly into divulging more about her affair then they end up becoming friends. Carly and Kate hatch a plan to get even but before they can get anywhere they find out there is a third woman who is sleeping with Mark.

Kate Upton plays the third woman, Amber, who is also having an affair with Mark but Mark has been lying to all three and she is just begging to get even as well. They hatch a plan using Mark’s own con with Kate who he is using as a front for a business venture to keep himself safe.

Mark has been creating businesses and using Kate as the head of the company but they twist this around and take all his money that he planned to conn out of investors. In the end they take Mark for all that he stole and give it back to the investors so they are not going to pursue charges against Kate.

Mark is out all the money while Kate and Carly now work with Mark’s investors while Amber hooks up with Carly’s father who is played by Don Johnson. The Other Woman is a great story that is pretty well taken to film but some of the corny directions just don’t help the plot.

The writing seems to be the bad part of this film even though it is fairly good with Leslie Mann doing most of the comedy. Kate Upton is here more for eye candy than anything while Cameron Diaz tries to be the mastermind of the group but gets less central as the movie moves on.

The biggest problem is the direction and plot did not keep things centered on one style throughout the film which would have made it much better. If they had specific direction and kept to that the movie would have been netter but as it is they flake out at times and head off in odd ways.

The Other Woman on Blu-ray has great video quality from real film that has vivid color and fantastic location shots like the beach scenery. Audio is also great in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 but surround sound is a bit lost here due to the dialogue driven film.

Bonus content includes a gag reel, deleted scenes and a take on one scene where the giggles took over the shot for a lackluster offering. The gag reel is alright but the rest is only filler so there really is only one decent extra for a very poor set of bonus features.

The Other Woman is a decent enough movie but I could easily see that it had potential that was wasted due to inadequate writing and or direction. Check out The Other Woman as one of those alternate films when nothing else that you wanted is available for rent.

The Other Woman Website

Next Goal Wins DVD Review

Next Goal Wins DVD Review

Next Goal Wins is a British documentary about the national football, we call it soccer, team of American Samoa and their triumphant return from a serious losing streak.

Film making 4/5
Video 4/5
Audio 4/5
Recommendation 4/5 Stars

Next Goal Wins
Next Goal Wins

In 2001 the American Somoa football team lost to Australia 31 to 0, the biggest defeat in football history and it took the team 17 years to break that record. Only scoring twice in 17 years may seem like a theme for a film but it did happen to the American Somoa football team.

Bring in Dutch born but American coach Thomas Rongen and three weeks of hard work to bring the team around to break their bad luck. The team finally scores goal after goal and wins a few games to make it to position 173 in the world standings.

While they did not make it to the finals they did break a streak that had been plaguing them for years and in sports this can be bad. Not only does a team have to be in top physical condition but mentally they have to pull together both as a team and individually to do their best.

They have to pull together as well as practice together and coach Rongen does just that in the few short weeks before their first game toward the finals. The World Cup finals for 2014 starts three years before the final games so the team had to start winning games in 2011 to qualify.

While the team lost during their qualifiers for their chance to play at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 they did win some games. This would not be a big win for most teams but this one has only scored two goals during the last 17 years of games.

Next Goal Wins is a great look inside the human spirit and the courage it takes to fight their way out of the bottom even if they don’t get far. You can easily tell this is not your team comes from the bottom to take first place as they do not even make it to the World Cup but they do change their luck.

Real world examples of people struggling to rise above their past dissapointments are rare but in this documentary it does happen. Even when you know the outcome it still brings a smile to your heart to see how the team rejoices with their small win.

Next Goal Wins is a DVD so it does have decent quality but not the better Blu-ray quality even though it is shot with a high-definition Red Epic-M. Video is really good and about the best I have seen on a documentary on DVD with some very good footage from the real games as well as the behind the scenes shots.

The color is very good but a bit lower key without any enhancing or editing in post-production with special effects. The audio works well and is in 5.1 Dolby Digital but is only in English with no other languages available except the closed captioning.

There are no bonus features in the DVD release of Next Goal Wins so I am not going to be including any stars for its rating. Next Goal Wins is a great film and well worth a look to see how the lowest scoring team pulled out of their slump and win a game.

Next Goal Wins Website

Product Reviews Since 2005