Category: "Other"

The Fairfield Company Target Wrestling Mystery Repack Box Review Break

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Undoubtedly, if you've been to a Target store, you've seen the "cards and collectibles" section at the end of the checkout lanes. It's where you'll find all of the sports cards, Garbage Pail Kids, Wacky Packages, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and all of that other overpriced junk. I almost always look at what's there, but rarely every buy anything as I can't justify the prices - especially considering the "blind bag" nature of these things. If I'm gonna spend $4 to $5 on a few measly cards, I at least want to know what I'm buying.

On a recent visit to my local Target, I saw these red Wrestling mystery repack boxes from The Fairfield Company (a division of Excell Marketing), which I expected to be priced at $15 or $20 each. Imagine my surprise when the price checker showed them to be a mere $4.99 each. I bought all four boxes that my local Target had, as well as another box at a different Target. So, five boxes in total, at a total cost of $25.00 (plus tax). The big draw for me were the Teenymates packs, which my Target was also selling individually for $3.99 each. Getting TWO packs for $4.99, PLUS three packs of cards, and two packs of erasers was a much MUCH better deal than just one pack of Teenymates for $1.00 less. (Note: The photos accompanying this review were taken at different times, so they may not show everything I mention in my text.)

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Each one of these boxes contains the following:
  • 2 packs of WWE Teenymates (2015) (regularly $3.99 each)
  • 2 packs of WWE Eraseez collectible puzzle erasers (2015)
  • 2 packs of Road To Wrestlemania 2014 cards
  • 1 pack of random WWE cards (2010/2013/2014 series, in my case)
That's not a bad haul for the price, but did I really get my money's worth. Let's crack these open and find out.

Full story »

Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Takes Very Poor Picture Indoors, Consumes Lots Of Batteries

I bought the Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera because I needed one solely for taking photos of the items I sell on the internet. I didn't want to spend a lot of money (read: over $100) on a digital camera, so when I saw this at Wal-Mart for $60, and saw that it had a built-in flash, I figured that this would do the trick. Even though it's a cheap camera, I figured that it should be able to handle such a simple and undemanding task as taking photos indoors of various little and big items. Boy was I wrong.

This camera takes VERY POOR picture indoors, even though it has a built-in flash. In fact, the flash makes the pictures worse. Pictures taken with the flash appear all washed out.

Unless you hold the camera incredibly steady, you risk having shaky pictures. Half the photos I took were shaky, even though I held the camera as still and steady as possible. The camera has a hole on the bottom where a tripod can be inserted. I highly suggest you use one, if at all possible.

It consumes battery power at a fast rate. I put new batteries in it and within a few hours it started complaining that the battery was low. When it prompts "Low Battery," it doesn't let you use the flash (how annoying!). It uses 3 AAA batteries, but has no adapter for house current, so you're forced to feed it more batteries. It even uses up battery power when you're not using it at all. I had a set of 3 brand new AAA batteries sitting in it for two weeks, while the camera was just sitting in it's opened packaging. When I went to use it again, first I saw defects in the preview screen, then eventually the camera would keep shutting off as soon as I would turn it on. Thus I was required to put another set of three brand new AAA batteries in it.

It has a 16MB built-in flash memory which requires a constant electric current to store your photos. Should the camera lose power (for instance if the batteries die or are removed), all stored pictures will be lost. Sakar recommends always downloading your photos to your computer as soon as possible to prevent unintentional data loss. I recommend not buying this camera unless you have a SD card or buy one along with the camera (luckily I did). The SD card supercedes the built-in memory, so all photos are saved onto the card instead, where they will not be lost because of the power supply.

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The package comes with the camera, instruction manual (which is easy to understand, if somewhat poorly written), drivers disc (with PhoTags software), USB wire (to connect the camera to your computer), and a hand strap. Although the manual tells you first that the PhoTags software is needed to transfer the photos to your computer, if you continue reading you'll learn that it isn't. In fact, you can use the camera without installing PhoTags at all. The driver installation is located on the CD at: \drivers\setup.exe. Once installed, when you connect your camera to your PC, it will appear as another drive on your computer (two drives if you have a SD card in it). Then you can just copy, move, and delete the photos on it from Windows Explorer or whatever way you normally work with your computer files. I don't know if it's just me, but I found that Windows kept reinstalling the drivers every time I connected the camera to it. That got very annoying real quick, especially when once it made me get out my Windows 2000 CD.

You *might* need PhoTags to use the camera as a webcam, but then again, you can probably find some other software on the internet (maybe for free) that will let you do that as well (and maybe even better).

In case you're wondering, PhoTags is a rather useless program to organize photos (to a certain degree), add text and captions to them (which can be turned on and off using "Active Captions" technology - software required on the computers of anyone you send your photos to), make minor corrections (such as red eye removal), and do simple photo print projects (calendars, greetings cards, postcards, etc.). Two of the photo projects are non-existant: Album Creator and Video CD Creator. When you click on either of them, you are taken to the PhoTags website where you are prompted to buy the full version for $10 to add these two features.

Although I didn't expect to get a top-of-the-line digital camera for $60, I did expect to get something that would take decent photos indoors. I guess I'll have to keep looking.

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LG W1943TB-PF Black 18.5" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Monitor Review

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This review was originally written on October 10, 2009 (completely rewritten on January 16, 2010, updated on March 13, 2010)
Dead Pixel On 2nd Use, Defects In 2 Replacements, Refurbs Sent As Replacements For New,BBB Helped Me Get Value Difference Refund

Since July 2007 I've owned an Acer AL1917WAbd 19" LCD Monitor. It works great and I've never had a problem with it. However, with the recent purchase of a Blu-ray drive, it no longer meets my needs as it's not in a 16:9 aspect ratio (it's 16:10) and it's not HDCP-compliant (a requirement for Blu-ray playback). So I went online and looked for an affordable monitor that met those two new requirements, and also has a DVI-D input and is physically no wider than 18 inches (the maximum amount of space I have available on my desk for a monitor). I found a monitor that met all four of my requirements, but I sure had a heap of trouble with it since practically day one. Here's a nice detailed timeline of the ordeal I went through.

09/30/2009 - Purchased the LG W1943TB-PF Black 18.5" 16:9 Widescreen LCD Monitor brand-new for 119.95 from Newegg, in spite of their horrendous Monitor Replacement Only Return Policy which states that "there must be a minimum of 8 dead pixels to declare an LCD display defective and eligible for return" within 30 days of purchase. Since the Acer LCD monitor never gave me a single problem in 2 1/2 years of use, I figured that I wouldn't have any with the LG monitor, and so that horrendous return policy didn't scare me away.

10/01/1009 - Received the monitor via UPS. On it's SECOND USE, in less than a week of ownership, I noticed a big ugly black spot in the screen! It was on the left side, where it got in the way of my work. I work frequently in word processing applications, which have a white background, so it very easy to see. Since I never experienced this phenomena with the Acer monitor, I went online to see what it was. I've learned that it's known as a "dead pixel", and apparently there's nothing that can fix it - as opposed to a "stuck pixel", which apparently CAN be fixed.

Newegg specifically mentioned that a minimum of eight dead pixels has to be present before they would take it back, so I didn't bother wasting my time trying to return it to them - though in retrospect maybe I should have lied about how many dead pixels there were and tried doing an exchange with them, because the alternative was much worse. Instead, I contacted LG customer service to see if they would honor the three year warranty. I originally made the mistake of using the newly-learned phrase "dead pixel" in my transmission to them, which resulted in an e-mail that read, "Unfortunately that is a standard that they [Newegg] use based off of all LCD monitor manufactures. We would have the same policy to have the repaired/replaced only if the unit had that many pixels out." I waited a week or two and tried contacting them again, this time only referring to the defect as a "black spot" (which is what I was calling it until I learned the proper terminology online). This time I had better luck, as they allowed me to exchange it for another monitor in a process that they call a "Standard Swap".

10/29/2009 - First Swap claim was initiated via e-mail, but would not get processed until I had the chance to call customer service two weeks later. I couldn't even file the claim through their online form as the monitor isn't even listed on their website!

11/16/2009 - First Swap claim was processed, monitor was shipped to LG on 11/19/2009.

Now before I go any further, I want to provide the complete parts list for the brand-new monitor:

-- W1943TB-PF Monitor.
-- W1943TB-PF Monitor Stand.
-- DVI-D Signal Cable.
-- 15-Pin D-Sub Signal Cable (standard VGA cable).
-- Power Cord.
-- W1943TB-PF Drivers/Users Guide disc (an actual factory-pressed disc, not a CD-R).
-- W1943TB-PF Easy Setup Guide paper.
-- Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet.

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(image courtesy of NewEgg)

In the Swap instructions letter that I was e-mailed (along with a pre-paid FedEx label to print out), I was told in bold capital underlined letters, "PLEASE SEND ACCESSORIES (CABLES. CORDS, REMOTES. MANUALS ETC.)" So I included every single one of those items listed above in the package that I sent to LG. To this day I still have not received the last three items back. Granted, they're not required for the normal operation of the monitor (even though the Quick Start Guide says to use the drivers on the disc instead of the standard Windows plug & play driver), but they ARE something that I paid for - and I feel insulted that I was told in bold capital underlined letters to send everything back, only for LG to decide not to send it all back to me in return.

11/24/2009 - First replacement monitor was shipped from the LG warehouse to me.

11/27/2009 - Received first replacement REFURBISHED monitor. I was expecting a brand-new monitor like the one I purchased brand-new less than 60 days earlier. This monitor had a small defect in it, though not as noticeable as the one in the other monitor. There was a small thin black line in the lower right area of the screen, about an inch above the clock in the tray area of Windows.

Also, I didn't get back half of the items that I sent back with the original monitor. This replacement unit was missing the DVI-D Signal Cable, Drivers/Users Guide disc, Easy Setup Guide paper, and Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet. I've had to temporarily borrow the DVI-D cable from the Acer monitor in order to connect the replacement LG monitor to my computer. Instead of getting a real drivers disc, LG had sent me a CD-R which has no drivers on them at all (only user guides). Because (as I would later learn) the drivers I installed from the original monitor did NOT get fully uninstalled when I used the "uninstall driver" button in Windows, Windows kept looking for them at every boot, prompting me with this message: "Please insert the Compact Disc labeled 'LG Monitor Profiles Installation Disk' into your CD-ROM drive and then click OK." As the monitor is not listed on the LG support site, I couldn't even download drivers for it. So for a few weeks I was annoyed at every Windows boot-up by this message. (I eventually learned that pressing the "rollback driver" button would fix the problem by reverting back to the standard Windows plug & play driver. You know, the one that the Quick Start Guide said not to use.)

Anyway, I was willing to live with the small defect, though I e-mailed and phoned Jennie Ramey (SWAP Coordinator, RA Department) and customer service to get the missing accessories. Jennie told me that I shouldn't have to live with the defect and that I should send it back for another monitor. Jennie also told me over the phone (on 12/7/2009) that "customer service generally sends a reconditioned unit for units over 60 days old". That's all fine and dandy, except that the claim was initiated LESS THAN 30 DAYS after the original purchase, and the replacement was sent out LESS THAN 60 DAYS after the original purchase. She didn't know why I wasn't sent a brand new unit, but she was willing to send me one. The only problem is that she didn't have any brand new W1943TB-PF units in stock at the warehouse in Alabama (where she's located), and she wouldn't be able to order any for me. I don't know why she couldn't order any as she works for the company that makes the product, but so be it. However, none of the alternate models we discussed met my few qualifications: 16:9 aspect ratio, DVI input, HDCP compliant, and 19" in screen size (20" would be a stretch for the space I have, anything bigger definitely wouldn't fit). So I was in store for yet another refurbished unit.

12/08/2009 - Second Swap claim was processed, monitor was shipped to LG on 12/15/2009.

12/29/2009 - Second replacement monitor was shipped from the LG warehouse to me.

12/31/2009 - Received second replacement REFURBISHED monitor. Again the package was missing the Drivers/Users Guide disc, Easy Setup Guide paper, and Standard LG Monitor Warranty Information Sheet. At least this time it came with the DVI-D Signal Cable. At this point I've realized that I'm never getting those three items back, even though they are technically something I paid for when I bought the original monitor.

This second replacement monitor is, sadly, not 100% defect-free, though it contains the least annoying defect of the three monitors to date. About 2 1/4 inches from the right side of the screen, about half an inch from the bottom (a little above the tray area, in the status bar of most applications) is a very faint dark spot (probably a dead subpixel or half-pixel or whatever it's called). It's only noticeable if you know that it's there and you know where to look, which is a BIG improvement over the defects in the other two monitors. Still, this just proves to me that LG is incapable of manufacturing a 100% perfect defect-free monitor. Considering the poorly-designed LG Chocolate cell phone that left my mother with hundreds of dollars in unwanted charges a few years ago because it kept doing things other than what she was trying to do, I've come to the conclusion that LG stands for "like garbage".

I'll live with this most minor of defects, but a bigger injustice is present that LG would not correct on their own.

They would not give me a refund of the difference between the full retail price I paid for the brand-new monitor and the value of the refurbished monitor I received as the replacement so soon thereafter. Jennie Ramey told me via e-mail that she "can not refund [me] the difference in price", but she did not say why. She did say that "replacements that are sent out for units over 90 days old are reconditioned", which is a change from the "60 days" she mentioned over the phone on 12/7/2009 (I guess she can't keep her story straight). However, whether 60 or 90 days, I should have received a brand new unit. The first claim was initiated LESS THAN 30 DAYS after the original purchase, the first replacement was sent out LESS THAN 60 DAYS after the original purchase, and the second replacement was sent out LESS THAN 90 DAYS after the original purchase. So there's no reason that I should not be granted a refund for the difference.

On February 1st I sent a letter to the President and CEO of LG Electronics USA at the U.S. Corporate Headquarters (1000 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632). I figured as the head honcho, he'd be the single best person to contact about the matter. After waiting three weeks for a reply and not getting one, I contacted the Better Business Bureau on February 22nd for help.

Four days later on 2/26 I received an e-mail from Jennifer Adams-McKee, Asst. Manager of the Customer Resolution Team. She told me that "the warranty statements on our monitors do state that parts or units may be replaced with reconditioned units at LG's discretion. It does not specify any age of the unit at all. However, we at LG do try to make it a "good" practice to use new stock for any units less than 60 days old whenever stock is available." Okay, that explains the situation better than what I've been told over the past few months.

Jennifer was very willing to grant me a refund of the difference in cost between what I paid for the new monitor and the value of the refurbished monitor I received as the replacement. She told me that refurbished units sell online for 89.95 to 99.95, and that she would be able to offer me a refund of 30 dollars. I replied back to let her know that this would be quite acceptable to me. The check was cut on 3/5, and received by me on 3/8/2010.

Although I'm happy with the end result, after this experience, I certainly won't buy another LG product ever again, and certainly won't recommend LG to others.

OCZ StealthXStream 600 Watt Power Supply Review

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This review was originally written on March 10, 2011
Lasts Just Long Enough For The Warranty To Expire

I bought the OCZ StealthXStream 600 Watt Power Supply (PSU) on July 19, 2007 for $94.99 from Micro Center in Westbury, New York four days after I bought all of the other parts I used to assemble my own computer. It came with a 36 months (3 years) manufacturer's warranty. So, of course, it chose to die on February 24, 2011, which is 43 months (3 years 7 months) later. It's like OCZ manufactured it to last just long enough for the warranty to expire :-)

Some reviewers on Amazon had their PSUs die in 10 months, 8 months, 2-3 months, or even 2 weeks! So it looks like I was actually lucky that mine lasted as long as it did. Still, I've owned computers since 1992/1993, and none of the PSUs in them have ever died. This OCZ unit was the first to die. So, that alone, doesn't rate it very high in my book, in spite of it lasting longer than others have reported.

The new PSU I just bought from NewEgg is a Sigma Focus SP700B 700W (800W Peak) ATX12V power supply, which set me back $69.94 ($59.99 + $9.65 shipping). NewEgg claims that it has a 3 years manufacturer's warranty, though I can find no proof of that on the packaging or on the Sigma website. Of course, I'm hoping that it lasts MANY years - a lot longer than three - so I shouldn't have to even worry about the warranty.

PNY Attache 64MB USB 1.1 Flash Drive Review

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This review was originally written on December 4, 2004
The Perfect Companion For The CodeBreaker

The PNY Attaché 64MB USB 1.1 Flash Drive (Mfr#P-FD064U11-RF) is the only drive that I have successfully gotten to work with the CodeBreaker v8.0 cheat device for the PlayStation 2 (buy version 9.3 here). I plug it into my PC, download code and game save files from the internet onto the drive, remove it from my PC (after going through Window's "Unplug or Eject hardware" routine, of course), plug it into one of my PS2's USB slots, boot up the CodeBreaker CD, and transfer the files from the drive to my PS2 memory card. Of course it works the other way around too (so I can transfer my game saves from my PS2 memory card to my PC). As a bonus, I can also use it to transfer files from my PC to someone elses. A very reliable little device.

I can also personally confirm that the Memorex Thumb/Travel Drive (Mfr#32507712) (128 MB) does NOT work. Feel free to check out the official list of (supposedly) Compatible USB Pen Drives:
Compatible USB Pen Drives by Neo (last updated: 7/26/2005)

Here's a list of compatible USB drives:

* Lexar Jumpdrive - $20-$40 @ BestBuy.com
* PNY Attache - $20 for 128mb @ BestBuy.com
* Sandisk Cruzer Micro - No information yet
* Memorex - $20 for 128mb (unconfirmed price)
* The PSP - Compatible as a gamesave/code save storage device.
* iLo MP3 Player - $65 (average) for 256mb storage. Verified it myself.
* Dell USB Pen Drives - $30 for 128mb

Below is a list of incompatible storage devices:

* Sandisk Cruzer Mini
* MaxDrive (ARMax) - Supposedly it works, however completely unauthorized and unsupported by CMGSCCC. Do not use.

When purchasing a USB drive, remember that unless you plan on other uses for your pen drive, you won't need one larger than 64mb (that's the size of 8 PS2 memory cards). That kind of storage is more than you will ever need for your PS2.
2017 UPDATE - Okay, this is an item that no one reading this today will be interested in buying. USB 2.0 is commonplace, much less USB 3.0, so a USB 1.1 device isn't going to be of interest to anyone anymore. On top of that, 64 Megabytes is a drop in the bucket compared to the GIGABYTES of space afforded by today's USB devices. Remember, 1 GB = 1,024 MB, so all of my 4GB devices are each 63 times larger than this one drive, while occupying roughly the same physical space. I won't even bother to calculate the increase in capacity I get from my 8 GB and 128 GB devices. That said, I still have this 64 MB device, but only use it exclusively with the Codebreaker cheat device in my PlayStation 2 video game console, just as I suggested in this "mini review".

Codebreaker, which ceased development about 10 years ago, was always finicky with the USB devices it would read files from. It may not read from today's faster and larger capacity devices, so this old PNY Attache 64 MB drive may be something to seek out if you're a retro PS2 gamer who wants to cheat/have fun with your games. If you're tracking down an old copy of Codebreaker, you will also need to ask questions of Amazon and eBay sellers to find out which version they are selling. Version 10 was the last one produced, but you'll be good with versions 8 or 9, too. I have v8.0 and it works great to this day. Version 7 could be useable, but I heard that it has issues, and don't bother with any earlier versions. As a general rule, go with v8, v9, or v10.