Panasonic On-Ear Headphones RP-HS46 Review

I cannot stand “in the ear” headphones. When I am working out they’re always falling out during the best part of the song or during the last few reps when you need that motivation to help you push yourself.

Over the years I have used all different types of headphones and it wasn’t until May 2009 that I found the pair I could stand behind.

Panasonic On-Ear Headphones RP-HS46 Review

The Back-Story

In May 2009 I was working out 5-7 nights a week at my gym alone with my amazing Apple 30GB iPod I used to rock out with. I had gotten to the gym at my normal hour of 11 and got changed in the locker room when I found headphones had ripped the cable out (or something along those lines… I don’t fully remember). I quickly ran to my local Wal-mart to pick up the cheapest on-ear headphones. I found the Panasonic RP-HS46.

I ran back to my gym and worked out using these headphones for the next year and a half. I ended up not working out for a few years after my accident but I always carried my iPod to work with me so I needed a descent pair of headphones to get me by.

The Torture Testing

From 2011 until April 2015 I have used that same pair of Panasonic headphones while working at my fathers company doing decorative concrete work. To give you an idea of what that means, it is a lot of catching the headphone cord on equipment, lots of dust, dirt and sweat getting into the headphones. It is also a lot of bending over and putting pressure on the headphone plug. It is also hundreds and hundreds of hours of music being pumped through the headphones.

After all of that time, the headphones still worked until they finally gave up the ghost and went out on me in April. This forced me to shop online for a new set. When I had last looked online for the pair as a gift, I could only find them for $50-80 dollars on Amazon. I paid $13 (most expensive pair I had ever purchased at that time, so the amount had stuck in my head) when I first picked them up in 2009.

In April I was lucky enough to find them again for $8 a pair online so I picked up two.

Conclusion

Are these headphones the best in the world? No. Do they have the richest sound? No. Do they last unlike any others I have ever used? YES!

I wanted to write this review because as someone who beats the living hell out of clothes and gear just living a normal (for me) life I want to share what I have found to be durable and long lasting and can take the beating I put things through. These fit the bill.

A Gentlemen’s review of Apple’s iPods, iPhones and Mac computers

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Intro into Apple

Growing up I living in a PC household. I remember my first PC was my folks old Windows 95 when they got their new Windows 98. I did my homework on that computer and I loved it. I had all kinds of cool games and I grew up thinking PC was where it was at. In my teens I bought my first apple product after my Microsoft Zune bit the dust 2 weeks after purchase. I am happy to say I have only purchased 2 iPods and both are still running.

My life before the iPhone

In the spring of 2010 I bought my first smart phone, the Apple iPhone 3GS. I tend to spend upwards of a few months weighing the pros and cons of spending any large chunk of change. In January 2010 my contract was up and I wasn’t sure if I really needed the iPhone or if it was just a toy. I spent a week visiting my Grandfather who is an Apple nut like myself. I read every article I could find in his stacks of Macworld magazines.

At that time I was using my folks laptop to check emails on my trip, which would have been easier had I owned a smart phone. I even got to play around with my great uncles iPhone while he was visiting. This was when I got the green light in my head to go out and buy one.

Apple Care and other protections

When I buy an iPhone I get the $99 Apple Care plan and then I immediately head over to my local electronics store and buy a Zagg screen cover.   What is the point of spending that much on a device you carry everywhere if you have no plans on protecting it?

To this day I can tell you I have had my 3GS replaced twice and my 4S replaced 3 times (my 6 is less than a month old). I live about 10 minutes from an apple store which makes it quick and easy to get a phone fixed or to just go and check out the latest products.

My father who is the only android user in the family had a problem with his S4. It took about 2 weeks for it to get replaced by mail and cost him more on top of the protection plan he had with his carrier.

While upgrading to the iPhone 6 at my bulk foods club the guy behind the counter asked if I wanted the protection plan they offered. He tried to tell me how it was better so I started asking him questions from past complications I have experienced with my phone. I asked how long it would take to get a new phone or if they would even warranty it. After 10 minutes he looked at me and told me that he has to try to sell their protection plan. I know from experience the Apple care is better protection for me.

My Home Office Set Up

Screens from left to right

Envision Professional series 19” LCD (Windows)
iMac 27” (2014) with 16GB RAM and 1TB Fusion HHD/SSD, 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz Intel Nvidia GeForce GT 755m 1GB GDDR5
Dell 17” LCD (Windows)
Hisense 50″ K610 Series Smart TV (connected to the PC and Mac for screen sharing as well as cable)

On the Desk

UBL iPod dock
Seagate 2TB External HHD (Windows)
Seagate 2TB External HHD (Mac)
Sony STR-DH130 2-Channel Hi-Fi Receiver (TV, Mac, PC, UBL)

Windows

Acer Aspire X3400 8GB RAM and 2TB internal HHD
Windows 7 Home Premium

PC MAC PC

As you might have figured it can be confusing at times which mouse or keyboard you need for the project you are working on or trying to get the PC mouse to drag something from the iMac on to the PC. I have found that after a few months with the split of the Windows monitors that my brain didn’t really see the iMac in the middle as part of the mouse movement anymore.

Why iMac?

This is the second iMac I have owned (the first being a Mid 2007 24” iMac w/ Yosemite, 4GB RAM and 500GB HHD). I received the first one as a gift from my grandfather in 2013 when I was starting my process of looking at Macs. This was a great way to get into the Mac world and see what I was missing, without having to drop $1800 on a new iMac.

I have been working on videos for my other company and I needed a better way of making quality videos than my old windows movie maker. When working with any amount of footage the more CPU speed and ram and hard drive space the better.

I am able to produce better quality videos in a shorter and less frustrating amount of time using the the Mac and the PC side by side. I like to think of my Mac as my creative computer and my PC as my work computer.  This is not to say Mac is not great for work. However, I spend most of my time writing blog post on my Windows Live Writer to upload to my websites. I use my Mac for the “pretty stuff”. I have CS5 Photoshop and a number of other programs that help me edit video and pictures with ease. I have the more boring Word docs on my PC.

Are Apple Products Worth the Cost?

I get asked that question a lot since I use them. I will share with you what I tell most people.

For me? YES! I love that I can backup my phone and know that if I drop my phone and it breaks that I haven’t lost everything. I love the fact that I can get a replacement for my product if it is broken that day and all it takes is an appointment to the local Apple store.

I love that if I am having problems with any of my devices, Apple Care or not, I can get help 24/7. But the biggest reason I think they are worth the money is that they are like a car, if you take care of them they will last you a good long time.   Out of the box, they are simple and I like the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it simple, stupid).

Final Thoughts

I am an Apple user and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Hisense 50" K610 Series Smart TV Review

Hisense 50 K610 Series Smart TV Review

Introduction

I found this 50” Hisense Smart TV in a black Friday ad in 2013. I had been looking at a new TV for a few months before buying this one as my old CRT had started to die. I am the kind of guy who loves new tech but if I don’t need to replace something I do my best not to and save a few dollars.

The TV is for my home office where I spend most of my time. so I typically watch TV there. I have a nice size office but the layout of the room does not leave many choices for viewable wall space from the desk. While researching TVs I looked at everything from a 32” up 55”. I decided I wanted something larger and could fit this 50″ Hisense in the open wall space.

Specs & Features

Hisense 50K610GW Series Smart TV

Diagonal Screen Size: 50 inches
Type: LCD, LED
Pixel Refresh Rate Speed: 120Hz
Native Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 pixels
HDMI Ports: 4
Video Interfaces: Component, Composite, HDMI, USB, VGA
Networking Options: Ethernet, Wi-Fi
3D: No
Web Streaming Services: Yes
Height: 25.9 inches
Width: 44 inches
Depth: 2.3 inches
Weight: 55 lbs
Average Contrast Ratio: 6359:1
Average Black Level: 0.0603 cd/m^2
Peak Brightness: 383.46 cd/m^2
Average Power Consumption: 105 watts

Price

The MSRP is $628.00 but I picked this up for $350 during the holidays.

Web Apps

I run more than one computer on my desk and I normally have either music or a YouTube video playing in the background as I work. When I am rendering or gaming my computers are not able to keep up with another video playing on my screen so I switch over to the YouTube app on my TV and I am able to watch full HD videos.

When I do some video editing for my other work I like to be able to check the quality of the video on different size screens and see how the video came out.

Video Interfaces

Since my computers are set up to run multiple screens, I have a VGA cable that is connected to both the TV and the computer. This allows me to view the projects I am working on with a large screen.

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Overall Thoughts

While 4K and 5K TVs are the big thing right now I don’t have a need to see every pore on my new anchors face. This 50” Hisense Smart TV is the perfect size for my needs. I like the fact that I am able to use hulu, youtube, netflix, and all the other apps on this TV. I mainly just use it for my normal cable viewing. The TV is slow to respond at times but overall I like the TV and I would say if you are in the market for a new 50” this is worth looking into.

Porter Cable 20V Lithium Ion Drill 2014 Review

I purchased this drill at the beginning of 2014 because all of 5 my Milwaukee 18V Lithium ion batteries had started to reach the end of their life span. I needed a good drill for some home remodeling projects and just normal honey do list items around the house.

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Introduction

Over the years I have owned five different cordless 18 volt drills. I have learned that about the time that all my batteries for that model drill, start to reach the end of their life cycle it’s time to shop. There is always a newer drill that is smaller, lighter and has better torque for a cheaper price than it is to replace my old drills’ batteries. I was lucky when I found this Porter Cable Drill on a deal-a-day site for a much better price than I had found anywhere else.

Specs & Features

· Voltage: 20

· Battery Type: Lithium Ion

· Max Power: 330 UWO

· Clutch Settings: 23

· Chuck Size: 1/2″ ”

· Tool Weight: 3.5 lbs

· Length: 7 3/4”

· Height (w/battery): 9”

· High performance motor delivers 330 Unit Watts Out

· 2 Speed gear box (0-400/0-1,600) delivers the power needed to complete large and small applications

· Metal ratcheting chuck minimizes bits slipping in chuck

· Battery gauge displays charge remaining in the battery

· LED light brightens dark work areas

· The compact size and light weight  allows tool to work in tight areas and minimizes user fatigue

· 20V Max Lithium Ion batteries with 1.5 amp/hour cells delivers more power and runtime in a smaller package

Size

This is the smallest, yet most powerful drill, I have owned as of yet. My last drill from chuck to back came in at about 11” which makes this drill noticeably smaller. The battery even come in at under 2” which is an inch and a half shorter than my last drill.

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Power

After about one year of use, the drill still has a very strong battery. I have on occasion drained the battery and had to switch over to my Milwaukee to finish the job. It is a simple remedy to just buy another battery, I just haven’t got around to it .

Torque and Speed

This drill has a lot of torque. If you are new to higher quality cordless tools it is important to remember that these are work tools and not just a cordless screwdriver. One of the ways to find out how much torque I have to drive a 3/8” lag bolt into a piece of hardwood like oak. If I can snap the head off I know that I have to watch what I am doing more carefully.

This drill has two speeds as most current construction drills have. You generally need to drop the speed down to “1” if you are using it as a screwdriver because it will easily strip out the screw head.

Weight

The biggest difference I like from a fatigue standpoint, is that the Porter Cable 20v battery is one pound less than my 18v Milwaukee battery . Any reduction in weight without losing any power is a major benefit.

Grip and controls

The grip size is perfect for my size medium hands and there is still room for larger hands. The grip is rubber so you are sure to keep a grip even with sweaty hands. The forward and backwards controls are in perfect reach for my thumb and index fingers to quickly change the direction. Your speed or torque switch is mounted on the top of the drill like most other drills and is very easy to switch when you need more speed or more torque.

This drill comes with two magnets on top to store extra screws while you are working on a project.

Charger

The charger is very easy to use. The only complaint or concern I have is the power cord. It reminds me of the power cord on the “no name” throw away drills that are given to people who don’t use power tools but feel like they should own one. The wire for the cord is either a 18 or 20 gauge wire with thin insulation so one needs to be careful when using it.

Final thoughts

Overall I am very happy with this drill. I would have liked to have had a second battery but for the price it isn’t a problem. If you are used to the older cordless drills you will like the way this drill handles. The battery life is very long considering how lightweight it is.

 

Howard Leight Impact Sport E-Earmuffs review

I had planned to just review the Howard Leight*1 Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs but plans changed.

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Customer Care

A few months back I got in contact with Howard Leight about getting some earmuffs to review for shooting but what I didn’t know at the time was that I was going to review the company as well. When I contacted the company, instead of my normal getting bounced around and transferred five times until I talked with the right person, I talked with ONE person. I had the pleasure of talking with Customer Care Rep Laraine from Howard Leight.

Empowered Reps

Normally I have to talk with someone in marketing or another division who handles media requests such as this one. With Howard Leight, I only worked with the customer care rep who the company has empowered to be able help the customer not like a number of other large (non-firearm) corporations.  Most companies keep sending you to the next tier up because all the first tier customer care rep can do is ask you if you have turned the product on and off.

I am not going to get on my soap box and talk about that because I really want to just talk about Howard Leight and how I had such a pleasant experience with them.

skip to Earmuff Review

I called Howard Leight and spoke with Laraine about getting the earmuffs and she was more than willing to help me out with this not just because I am a blogger but because Howard Leight seems to only employ customer care reps who CARE. I know this to be a fact because in the few times I did have to call the company and ask for Laraine I would always be greeted by one the of reps who would try to help me in any way they could before I would ask to speak with Laraine.

Consistency

I have contacted Howard Leight a couple of times since my first contact and have spoken to different customer care reps who were just as helpful and knowledgeable as Laraine.

Lifetime Customer

Howard Leight makes great ear protection but they have also made me a lifetime customer because of how they work with the customer.

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Specs: Impact® SportFolding

  • Sleek, extremely low profile earcup design allows for full clearance of firearm stock
  • Automatic 4 hour shut-off increases battery life
  • AUX jack connects to MP3 players and scanners
  • Automatically shuts off loud impulse noise to a safe 82dB while amplifying conversation and range commands
  • Convenient folding design for easy storage
  • One single power and volume control knob
  • Air Flow Control™ technology
  • Black leatherette headband with sporty hunter green earcups
  • Water resistant
  • Easy access to the external battery compartment
  • 2 AAA batteries included

Source: The Howard Leight website

Impact Sport E-Earmuff Review

For a number of years now I have used the surefire earplugs or my good old non-electronic over the head earmuffs because both offer me what I need for shooting.

The surefire plugs are great if I am going to be just shooting and minimal talking on the range and when I have a rifle stock glued to my face.

My  non-electronic over the head earmuffs offer me noise dampening but they are quick to slide off if I need to make a video or hear what the crew is saying, they are overly bulky and you hear every tap of the buttstock to your earmuff.

Adjustable Volume

The Howard Leight electronic earmuffs give me the best of both worlds. I can adjust the volume when I need to listen or almost turn the sound off when I am firing on the line with the three .30-06 rifles going off. The muffs are low profile so the overly bulkiness is minimized to the point it is comfortable to run and shoot with a rifle or to sit on the bench and shoot long distances.

Long Battery Life

We have been using the muffs for about 5 months now and haven’t had to change the batteries yet.

Increased Range Communication

I like the fact that I can adjust the volume easily when I am shooting from the bench and we have other shooters near us.  The spotter and shooter can almost whisper to each other adjustments without having to listen to everyone on the range. I can also turn the volume all the way up and hear the crew from a distance without anyone having to scream commands.

Overall Thoughts:

The earmuffs will run about $50 but for the safety of your hearing and still being able to hear what is going on around you,  they are well worth the investment.

*1 Howard Leight is owned by Honeywell, An American multinational conglomerate company that produces a variety of commercial and consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments.
Source: Honeywell’s Wiki page

Amazon Prime Reviewed

First I will say that I am an affiliate of Amazon however this is NOT a paid review and Amazon had no knowledge that I planned on reviewing them.

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l like to buy things and get it as quick as possible. Waiting for whatever I bought bugs the living hell out of me! When I have a product I am review for a company I have to have the tracking codes to stalk that package until the moment it is in my hands… yes I know I have a problem and no I don’t need counseling! I like being this way.

In 2012 I was offered an upgrade on my Amazon account to the prime for a 90 day trial. I opted in and found the free 2 day shipping on all Amazon Prime items for sale which I liked, but really only bought 1 thing in that time frame and it was near the end so I didn’t get a good look at what Prime was.

After my 90 days were up I noticed I still had Prime. What I had forgotten was that when I opted in that I had to actually opt out at the end of 90 days. When I saw the automatic payment for the next year ($79 for 12 months) I was mad at first that I had been suckered into this program. I was going to call them and ask for a refund and so on and so on but I cooled off and thought “what the hell, let’s keep this keep for a year and see how worth it, it truly is.”

SPOILER ALERT! It is worth the $79 for a year.

I’m behind the times and don’t really care about Netflix or other streaming programs because I have always had cable and so why pay for more TV than you can watch? Amazon Prime offers Unlimited Instant Videos which I do watch a few movies that come on when I am bored working hard on my other websites but other than that I don’t use it. I don’t read books off my tablet so the e-reader book rental. My sister has her own Amazon Prime account for her kindle and uses it almost exclusively for shows and books. But I gotta tell you, I do LOVE the shipping part.

In the past year I have bought everything from hard drives to flash lights to birthday gifts for friends using Amazon Prime because I never have to pay for shipping and I know that I can get the product in a timely manner and I am going to find what I want and it won’t be sold out like a black Friday event in a store.

Typically if I order something on a Saturday the order says it will be delivered on Wednesday but I have found that has never been the case and that I will get it on Monday or Tuesday (your results may vary)

And while we are on the subject of shipping, may I just say that I don’t get it. If you don’t have to pay premium dollars for a retail space and someone to stand around and offer me crappy service all day long, why not pass those savings on to the online shopper by offering free shipping any way? I promise that more people would buy online if shipping was included. Just look at cyber Monday sales when most retailers offer free shipping…..ok, off my soap box.

My renewal is coming up shortly and you can be guaranteed that it will be renewed and I will be enjoying another year of Amazon Prime and free 2 day shipping, streaming fun and maybe some free books now and then.

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Bullseye Camera Systems 500 Yard Edition review

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I contacted  Bullseye Camera Systems a few months back to review their Bullseye Camera Systems 500 Yard Edition.

The company was founded in 2012 and I rate it as one of the best new pieces of shooting gear for 2013.

While Panzer was prepping for an elk hunt this past October, we spent day after day at the rifle range to hone his distance shooting skills with his new rifle. Before starting to talk with Bullseye Camera Systems, we were utilizing every binocular, scope and spotting scope we had, to judge each shot taken. Every 10 or so shots we had to walk the 200-300 yards to cover previous shots with stickers to get clean readings.  The back and forth trips down the range kills a good 15% to 50% of your day at the range.

The Bullseye Camera Systems is just that… a target viewing system that sits near your target.

“No more walking back and forth to the target! Spend more time shooting!” – Bullseye Camera System Facebook page.

The system comes with:
– Weatherproof camera w/night vision
– 5-hour rechargeable battery
– Router and antenna
– Tripod and connectors
– Secure carrying case
– Bullseye Target Manager Software on a flash drive
Works with any laptop running Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or 8.

I know a few “purists” who believe that when it comes to shooting, old school is best and not use any tech. The two “purists” that I showed this system to, both thought this was a great for young and old alike since most people can’t see a .22 caliber hole in a paper at 200+ yards away.

The system is practically no maintenance  other than keeping the batteries charged and periodic free software updates.

During use, twice the system battery lasted longer than the laptop, so we just had to make a quick change of laptops by simply switching the flash drive. No download needed.

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After every shot you make, by hitting the spacebar on the laptop, the Bullseye Target Manager Software takes a still shot of the target. The software then flashes between the two most recent still shots comparing them. 

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The set up is as easy as setting up the tripod, mounting the camera, plugging the two USB cables into the battery pack, connecting the flash drive to your laptop and running the program.

Bullseye Camera Systems has two options:  500 yard or 1000 yard with an upgrade option for 1 mile. Both systems are similar, aside from the antenna which boosts the Wi-Fi range on the camera.

The base systems (without laptops) are $449 for the 500 yard and $549 for the 1000 yard system. Both are more an affordable option than some of the higher end spotting scopes that have clear glass to see at ranges like that.

The software lets you record all the data regarding each individual target; allowing for comparisons between days at the range. You can set different profiles for different shooters so everyone can use the same program to track their shots.  The software has a mark shot button that lets you cover your shots with a colored mark on the screen so you can use a target that has a few holes already in it.

Overall Thoughts:

This system is amazing! The company is still young so I expect to see them really starting to make waves in the next few years as they grow. The long range shooting part of the industry has needed something like this for years and as the tech becomes better and better so will this system.