Category: toys

Thoughts on the Pebble watch

By , September 11, 2013 7:00 pm

Pebble WatchI do not always make wise purchasing decisions. I don’t mean I buy bad products (although sometimes I do) but rather than I occasionally buy really cool things when I shouldn’t have bought anything at all. The Pebble Watch is an example of one such purchase.

The watch talks to your cellphone via Bluetooth to display when someone sends you an email or text, to control basic functions on your phone, and (with third party apps) to do a bunch of other things. It began as a Kickstarter project last year, and I decided to spend $125 and fund it rather than, y’know, saving money for rent or food. Super responsible decision. A year(ish) after funding it, I received my Pebble watch in the mail. I briefly considered selling it on eBay or Craigslist (again, rent and food are important) but decided to keep my fancy new toy.

I got a black one, and the watch itself is nice, if not mind-blowing: the screen is readable in sunlight, but has some slight shiny effects that show up under bright light, the buttons are satisfying to push, the backlight is neither too week nor too strong, and the magnetic charger (not a standard USB charger, so that the watch is waterproof) clicks in and stays in place. The watch works with both Android and iPhone, but I only have an Android phone so can only speak to that experience. The Android app, which pairs with the Pebble to control settings and watch faces, works…fine. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s functional. It allows you to control some basic features about what’s displayed on the Pebble, to send and delete watch faces, and some other various settings.

But all that is stuff you could find on any review site. How am I using the watch, and what do I love, hate, and want to see changed?

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Review: Vibratex Mystic Wand

By , January 4, 2012 5:12 pm
Pink and white


Way back September, I won a gift package from Early to Bed as part of their anniversary giveaway. Since I’ve been making such good use of my prizes, I figured I should share the love with all of you. The best part of the prize pack was undoubtedly the rechargable Vibratex Mystic Wand. Now i realize it looks a whole lot like the Luxe Magic Massager I reviewed back in 2010. And the general size and form factor are about the same. But where the Luxe was a poor-quality, loud, non-silicone, un-sexy toy, the Mystic Wand is awesome.

Lets start with build quality. The Mystic Wand has a removable silicone head, which allows for better cleaning and for the head to be replaced with other attachments that Vibratex makes. EDIT: I misread something somewhere. The rechargeable Mystic Wand does not have a removable anything. That said, it’s all silicone so easily cleaned with soap-and-water. END EDIT. The head is firmly attached to the body by a flexy-bendy neck, giving good control without feeling like the vibrating part is going to snap off. The body is coated with what feels like the same silicone as the head, but I’m not positive enough to want to stick it in my body. But you wouldn’t want to, so no worries.

The body is easy to hold, and feels well-made and not too heavy. There are two buttons – one to turn on and one to cycle through the 6 different vibration patterns: three that are a solid vibration at various strengths, and three that are different patterns of on and off. There’s also a blue light, which is a little bright, but I’m not looking at it while I’m using it… The version I got is rechargeable, and there’s a little rubber nub at the bottom to cover the charging port. Vibratex says it’s “splash resistent,” but I’m not going to risk trying it in the shower. It does feel pretty watertight, though. All in all, it feels like a good piece of equipment in ways the similarly-shaped Luxe never did.

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Reading versus E-Reading

By , May 15, 2011 6:02 pm

I’ve had my Nook for about three weeks now (here’s my original mini-review) and I wanted to add some more thoughts. I have a particularly relevant experience to compare and contrast to, since I just finished A Discovery of Witches for a forthcoming review. After three weeks of reading physical and digital books, I’ve come to a conclusion: I prefer reading e-books. I prefer having physical books.

Wait, what?

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Toys! (A post about computers)

By , January 23, 2011 3:13 pm

I just got a used iMac from a friend, and its making me rethink my computer set up. Right now I have the iMac on my desk in my room, and a (Windows) PC on the desk in my ‘office’ (really a corner of the sun room). I’m trying to figure out what’s going to give me the best workflow and the best ‘play’ flow (video games, music, etc). I also managed to sell my old computers (well, assuming a Craigslist deal goes through) so I have a little money to play with.

Right now the PC is my office computer, which means I have two internal harddrives – a primary and a backup – and two monitors, along with video editing software that can process my stupid camera’s obscure file format natively. What I’d like do do is this:

  • Move the Mac to the office and the PC to my room (I can’t play video games on the Mac, so it seems better to use it as a work computer)
  • Buy a mini-DisplayPort to VGA adapter so I can use a second monitor with the iMac (~$8, including shipping)
  • Get more storage space, either:
    • Buy two external hard drive enclosures to use with the iMac – one for storage (since the 300 gig internal drive isn’t cutting it for me) and one for backup (around $30 or $35 each)
    • OR crack open the iMac and put in a new drive (I have tons sitting around). I’d still need one more external case for backup
    • OR do both? Decadent!

That list wasn’t quite as overwhelming (or expensive!) as I thought, which is nifty. Any other thoughts on how I can make my work/play setup as awesome as possible, for as little money as possible?

Review: Amante Remoted-Controlled Vibrator

By , December 22, 2010 9:15 pm

Mention a remote controlled vibrator to anyone my age, and they immediately think of the scene from The Ugly Truth where Katherine Heigl is wearing vibrating panties at a dinner meeting and accidentally allows a random child access to the remote:

Alas, my experience with the Amante Remote Control Egg wasn’t quite so exciting, but still provided good fun. Read on for the full review!

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Obligatory cloud reference: CR-48 and Google’s Chrome OS

By , December 21, 2010 7:19 pm

This post was begun in my kitchen, something not too impressive in today’s connected and wireless world. In fact, my laptop since college – a long-in-the-tooth Dell Inspiron – has let me type posts in kitchens, at friends houses, on interstate busses, and on airplanes. (With varying levels of connectivity, admittedly, but I could at leas type the post at those places.) What makes this post unique is it’s the first I’m typing on my tester hardware of Google’s CR-48 netbook, complete with Google’s Chrome OS operating system.

What does that mean? First and foremost, it means I’m working in the ‘cloud,’ without any local file storage. If the computer isn’t online, either via WiFi or the included Verizon Wireless connection (which I have yet to get working) I’m SOL. For working at my apartment or a coffee shop, that isn’t an issue. If I’d had this netbook on my trip to Minneapolis, would the Verizon connection have worked on the bus? I don’t know.

BetaNews has a pretty good 7-day breakdown of one reviewer’s experiences with Chrome OS, and is worth reading if you want a really in depth look at what this machine could mean. After the break, I’ll go into some of my impressions after 36 hours.

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Mini reviews: New Super Mario Bros Wii, The Force Unleashed

By , November 24, 2010 5:15 pm

New Super Mario Bros WiiAfter much hemming and hawing and uncertainty, I finally made the decision to purchase New Super Mario Bros Wii a few weeks ago. This is a new, 2D version of Mario for the Wii, following up on the successful New Super Mario Bros DS, which came out a few years ago and which I loved. The Wii version is pretty much the same, with the addition of multiplayer(!) and (obviously) being on the Wii.

I’d do a big lead up to what I think of the game, but it’s really not worth it: This game is tons of fun. It combines the best of the NES versions of Mario (particularly drawing a lot from Mario 3) as well as the SNES Super Mario World (SMW). In fact, I’d rate it only slightly behind Super Mario World, my all-time favorite Mario game, in terms of fun and difficulty.

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Galcon on Android

By , August 25, 2010 9:00 pm


Just got Galcon on my Android phone to tide me over while I’m traveling this week. (And am currently playing it instead of, y’know, memorizing my lines or prepping for my show…)

It’s a pretty great game, described by Penny Arcade as “Space Risk in Real Time.” That is, you’re trying to take and hold planets by moving armies around. There are no dice rolls – it’s a pure numbers game – and the bigger your planets are the faster you generate new armies.

At an easy $2.99, available for iPhone and (in a larger edition) for computer) I highly recommend it.

Sold my arcade machine

By , August 8, 2010 7:39 pm

::sniff: Fly high, little MAME cabinet. Fly high.

MAME cabinet

You will be missed

It was bought by a local record store, to entertain their customers, so I still plan on stopping by to say ‘hi’.

Review: Currie EZip Trailz Electric Bike

By , July 14, 2010 10:41 am

I bought this one! This one! Mine!

As I mentioned last month, I bought an electric bike shortly after I got out of the hospital. Specifically, a Currie EZip Trailz. (I feel particularly clever because it’s currently $499 at Amazon, but I bought it for a brief period when it was $399.) I haven’t really discussed it much since then, though, so I figured it was time for an actual review.

First, a bit on how electric bikes work. They all have some sort of motor connected to a battery, allowing for extra oomph while biking. The motor is either strapped onto the fame (like my bike) or, for more expensive models, built into the hub of the wheel. The hub motors are better and quieter, but the external motors are cheaper. The battery then goes somewhere on the frame of the bike, in this case attaching to the rear rack. Again, on fancier bikes, the battery is more well-hidden. Depending on the style of the bike, you get power to the motor either automatically, by pedaling, or manually, by a handle-mounted throttle or trigger.

The Trailz is about as low-end of an electric bike as you can find. It’s a steel frame, so it’s super heavy, the battery is less expensive, so it’s heavy, and the motor is mounted rather than hub-based, so it’s heavy. With the battery, the bike weight about 90 pounds. Without, it’s closer to 75. I got the step-through model because, to be totally honest, it’s a bit more girlie. So sue me.

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