HouseParty Chatterbox: HP Envy 5540 All-in-One Printer with HP Instant Ink #HPInstantChat

With all the advances in computers recently, sometimes it feels like printers are being left a little behind. HP sought to try to remedy that by updating it’s venerable Envy series of printers with a touch screen, wireless capabilities, cloud printing and HP’s service, HP Instant Ink.

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I found the HP Envy 5540 AIO printer fell a little short almost everywhere, and way short in some places. To start, I’m not a fan of the “Instant Ink” service. Not only does it have a lot of intrusive, near constant pop-ups, but it wants to order ink way before the current cartridge is depleted. Not only that, it wants me to order paper, photo paper, and it does it every time you connect. That alone would have led me to box it up and take it right back. HP wants to claim “photo lab-quality prints” on pictures, and while the included photo sample paper made for a lovely print, it was obvious even to my untrained eye that I printed it at home. And HP’s yield for their ink is still near the bottom of the pack. The scanner wasn’t a lot better, but gave me good results for documents. There’s also no feed tray at the top for copies, faxes, or scans, just the flatbed, which after about 10 pages gets tiresome. Lastly, the minuscule monochrome touchscreen controls are frustratingly small. My hands were fine, but Hubby’s sausage fingers had him ready to pull his hair out. With everything tech under the sun having a big, bright color touchscreen, this is nigh unforgivable.

On the plus side, it grabs and holds the wifi signal, a clear improvement from the last HP Envy I tried out. It’s fairly quick to print, especially plain text black and white. The setup was painless, and going back to just two ink cartridges after using the 4 required for my Brother All In One printer was a welcome relief.  And while Hubby found the touchscreen on the “too small” side, I didn’t have any issues entering commands and found the interface very user friendly. And while I liked some things a lot, the things I disliked weighed more heavily on my mind because while they weren’t the kind of things that make the printer useless, they’re annoying enough to me that I wouldn’t have bought, kept or highly recommended this printer to anyone. HP has always made good to great hardware hamstrung by bad to awful software, and it seems this printer is no exception to this rule. In the end, I went back to my Brother printer, and this is coming from someone who had only had HP printers for over a decade.Whether these things would be deal breakers for you is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from House Party/Chatterbox/HP. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion. My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Sentey B-Trek H9 Bluetooth Headphones w/Mic Ls-4560

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So, it seems when Sentey makes a product that hits, it hits a home run. But sometimes, it’s just a foul ball over the left field fence. Not quite a homerun but a solid hit none the less. This is one of those. You’ll recall from my last Sentey Flow headset review, the sound was nothing to write home about. These B-Trek Bluetooth headphones fix that in spades. The sound is pretty good. The 40mm drivers have even tones, decent bass, and don’t sound tinny or blown out. Wired or wireless, the sound is quality. These are Bluetooth V4.0 compatible, and have been tested to work solidly with my laptop, hubby’s Nexus tablet, and our phone. It holds the connection well too. Where it falls short, again, is in the “gaming” category.

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See, the last thing I want to hear is the carnage and destruction inherent to one of hubby’s Battlefield 4 multiplayer sessions. Especially while I’m painting my nails. And we thought this headset would be the solution. But, despite pairing with the Playstaion 3 with ease, try as we might we could not get sound through these headphones to save our lives from the unit. Not for the game, for Amazon Prime videos, for music…nothing. Just static and ticking. It was a huge let down. We have an email in to Sentey about this, but as of this writing we have yet to hear back*. If you want a decent set of bluetooth headphones that won’t break the bank, these fit the bill. If you want it for PS3 (or PS4, one assumes) gaming, you might want to look elsewhere.

I don’t feel the lack of PS3 support should be a dealbreaker. The sound is good, they seem well constructed and of better materials than the Sentey Flow headset I mentioned previously. They also fold up for travel, come with a spiffy hard-ish travel case that holds the headset, the charging cable and the 3.5mm wired connection. The wired connection also works without having the lithium polymer battery charged (Sentey reports battery life of over 8 hours!), so your tunes aren’t dependent on your battery either. You have play, pause, skip and volume controls on the headset as well (device support dependent, obviously), which is nice. They fit my head, and even hubby’s big ‘ol pumpkin head, so they should fit just about everyone nicely. The ear cushion cups are snug enough for workouts or light jogging, but know that prolonged listening during these activities might cause some trapped perspiration, but the upside is there’s very little sound bleed from the earpieces. They were comfortable to wear and not so heavy that you feel like your head weighs an extra 10lbs. Overall we’re fans of these Sentey B-Trek Bluetooth Headphones, but there’s definitely room for some improvement here.

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*A quick note: I attempted on 2 separate occasions to get some support from Sentey about the PS3/Bluetooth issue. Both went unaswered. I’m dismayed that, knowing this product was sent as promotion and knowing that I would review it, and their after-sales support, they ignored me. Maybe they’d be better about product support with a paying customer, but I’ll leave my readers to draw their own conclusions here. Major disappointment for us, though.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Sentey.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD6 Review

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I am no stranger to tech. Even though it isn’t featured much on my blog, tech tools have been invaluable to me in almost every facet of what you see on here. So when I was offered a chance to review an Amazon Fire HD6 tablet from Third Voice Marketing, I said “You betcha!”. I’m always on the lookout for things to make my life a little easier, and a multi-tasker like a tablet is a sure fire way to get many things done, even on the go.

I may have been spoiled by hubby’s Nexus devices. While only sporting 7″ screens, they make the most of the real estate and have fabulous visuals and specs to boot. Sadly, the Fire HD6 fails to meet my lofty expectations. From the start, it feels thicker, clunkier and heavier (though it is lighter!) than the larger Nexus 7. The screen almost looks to be set further into the device. It’s resolution is 1280 x 800 (252ppi), which is a far cry from the 1920 x 1200 (323ppi) I’m used to. For a stand alone reader that would be fine. When a major selling point is full access to Amazon Prime features like the HD VOD service, that isn’t so fine. More on that later. Both sport Corning Gorilla Glass, both have front and rear cameras, both have quad-core processors,wi-fi, bluetooth and access to a wide array of apps. So, since one is more expensive than the other, you’d be inclined to forgive the screen issues and focus on what Amazon got right. Right?
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What amazon got right was the price. Sold for as low as $84 recently, you’d be hard-pressed to find a quad-core device of equal build quality for less. and with 1GB of RAM, it should handle light mobile games, email and some light web browsing with aplomb. But when you get to the software, that’s where things go off the rails for me. Amazon skinned over the lovely Android Kit Kat OS with their own proprietary features, much to the detriment of the user experience. Perhaps it’s because I’m used to a pure Android experience, but the devices seems seriously hamstrung by the Fire OS. You lose access to the Google Play store, you lose access to a synced Chrome (and all it’s bookmarks with no way to import them), you lose access to the device synchronicity you’re accustomed to, and you’re forced into an ecosystem that is geared towards Amazon consumption at the cost of being truly user friendly.
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I found myself constantly frustrated by trying to do what I’ve been doing with my Android devices for years now, only have to try to learn Amazon’s way of doing it instead. Yuck. What’s worse is when you get into heavy web browsing, downloading, or typing, you get so much lag you want to fling the thing into the nearest wall. All the ports are at the top of the device, the single rear speaker is absolutely awful, and the camera, at 2MP, is positively anemic. Though it does sport an HDR mode and a wide array of editing tools, the pictures will never be anything to write home about, especially in low ligIMAG2381ht conditions. The screen size is frustrating for me tapping and touching with normal sized fingers, and Hubby couldn’t do squat with his much bigger Hubby paws. Amazon does sport it’s own app store, but more than a few of the versions of the apps available, while seemingly identical to their Google App and Apple App Store cousins, are usually a few versions behind. Because, let’s face it, there are two big dogsIMAG2382 on the app block, and it doesn’t make sense to spend a bundle on development for the two little dogs with very little market penetration, Amazon and Windows. Amazon has also locked the bootloader, which means no third party development is available, which is another huge upside for normal Android devices, and a liability for Kindles.
I like having access to my Amazon Prime benefits. I like being able to stream my free video and audio benefits seamIMAG2380lessly. I like the Kindle features that go above and beyond the Kindle apps available for all my other devices. I like that it is small enough to drop in my purse and not know it’s there. It seems to be very sturdily built with unobtrusive buttons that don’t get hit accidentally. And I like the price. Aside from that, there is also plenty to make me say that I doubt I’d buy a Kindle on my own any time soon. The proprietary, frustrating nature of the OS. The ads on the lock screen. The focus on the “Amazon experience” and not the customer experience. The lack of synchronicity. The screen. And some personal experience. The memory on my first device was corrupted, and the charging port was borked. Amazon sent a replacement next-day air. But after several rounds with their “customer service” chat to figure out how to connect the device to my TV for a true HD video experience (6 different chats got me 6 different failed methods), I eventually gave up and resigned myself to a 6″ sub-HD screen for the foreseeable future. I also don’t know how I only have 3.5 GB of space on a 8GB device when it arrives. Too small to download a movie, and very little space for apps, media, or really, anything.
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I’ve used Samsung Galaxy Devices, LG devices, Asus devices, and Nexus devices. Kindle is dead last in my user experience.I wanted to like my Kindle. I wanted one for some time. Amazon shot for the moon with their Kindle devices and instead, for me, shot themselves in the foot. Perhaps I expected too much. As I stated, for a reader, it’s awesome. If you don’t mind the screen or speaker, the access to Amazon’s Instant Video and Music is phenomenal. And Amazon gives a you a 30-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee, but return shipping is at your cost. If it’s for youngsters, you have a relatively well built, relatively inexpensive device that they can stream the occasional video, play a few games, and read a few books. For a grown up, you’re better off buying a grown up device.
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I received the above product(s) free of charge from Third Voice Marketing.  I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

iGotTech: Texting Gloves #Review #gloves

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Cold weather sucks. Cold weather and touch screen devices make for some frosty paws. And that, my friends, is no bueno. So when iGotTech offered me a pair of texting gloves to test and review, it way perfect! And let me tell you, I was skeptical, but these little gloves WORK. And, with every dang thing we own having some form of touch-sensitive surface on it.  It was nice to not have your fingertips feel like ice every time I need to answer the phone, send an email, or browse the web.

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These are well stitched, stylish in black with grey colored touch-friendly tips, and made in a size that fits my normal sized hands. Thick enough to keep you warm, thin enough to work our remote control’s buttons. A 100% satisfaction, full refund guarantee. There’s practically no downsides. Except one. At $12 they’re as much as 4 times the cost of similar items. The other would be a lack of label listing materials used. Some people are sensitive or allergic to certain materials and it’d be nice to know if these are hypoallergenic. Other than that, I have no issues with these gloves, and in fact, they are a must use for me this winter.

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iGotTech, makes several products, and their service is top notch. Followed up with me right away, a testament to their commitment to customer satisfaction. I would cautiously recommend them, but this kind of product is a must have for those of us who don’t do too well with the cold.

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I received the above product(s) free of charge from iGotTech. I am not obligated to provide a positive or favorable review, just my honest opinion.  My review is based on my experience with the product and/or brand, which may differ from yours.

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