I’ve always wanted to review stuff but I could never get around to finding a theme for random reviews. So I’m doing this Best of 2011 to review all the products (lame or otherwise) that I loved using the last 365 days.
Home and Living
Audio: Samsung Sound Bar
I did the whole home theater thing about 10 years ago but I quickly realized that a) I never did watch THAT many movies and b) wires are the enemy- they’re messy, they collect dust and they’re always long enough to make a mess. I got the Samsung Sound Bar which is essentially one long speaker with a built in sound procrssor and a wireless subwoofer that takes both analog and digital inputs. It creates faux surround and plays music decently without the hassle of wires. It’s cheaper than an iPod Touch too.
Video: AppleTV 2 (www.apple.com/appletv)
I was always intrugued by this little device ever since they priced it at $99. It hooks up to your TV and gets you into the iTunes store and all it’s media (the HD stuff is pretty cool) plus you can access sites like YouTube , Vimeo, NBA.com (works with League Pass) right from the menus. And through wifi, it can access your Mac’s iTunes library, iPhoto, it mirrors what’s on your iPad2 (imagine Angry Birds on a big screen). With a jailbreak and the right software you can also get it to play any movie file by accessing a computer or a wireless drive right from the main menu.
Wellness: OSIM Home and Car Massage Chair
Possibly the best investment I’ve ever made in my life. It rests on top of any normal char, sofa, or car back seat and massages both the lower and upper back with a swing and shiatsu motion plus the bottom portion heats and vibrates. Each “treatment” is 10 minutes long. It’s powered through the usual wall outlet or if you install it at the back of your car, it comes with a long enough cords with a cigarette lighter adaptor at the end. Car, chauffeur service, and aromatherapy oils sold separately.
Grooming: Schick Quattro (www.schickquattro.com)
It’s time to end that search for the perfect razor. Saving is like buying anything. It’s a constant battle between cost and performance. I used to be a Gillette user moving from Sensor Excel to Mach 3 and back. Gillette makes reall good ones but they are very expensive and they dull really quick. Schick makes a titanium 4-blade cartridge with a 5th blade at the top corner for trimming and shaving right under the nose where wide surfaces can’t reach. Also they make a shaver with a trimmer (like shears) at the base to clip sideburns or to shape a goatee. The vibration also doubles as a massager when you shave. And the cartridges last longer (3 months for me) and cost only a bit more than HALF the price of a Mach 3. No contest.
Random: Mr Muscle Toilet Freshener
An odd addition to this set but you have to try it to appreciate what I’m saying. This will drive drop-in (blue stains in the bowl) hanging-by-the-rim (imagine having to fish this out when it falls in) and spray type fresheners (expensive and environment unfriendly) in a few years. Imagine a gel-type freshener shaped like a stick of gum (or those mini C4 plastic explosives James bond uses) that you stick on the inner side of the bowl right under the flow of water. It gets activated by a flush and is made so well that it sticks there pretty well and lasts a while. It releases and nice citrus or lavender smell that can handle even the serious offenders.
Here comes the good part…
Travel Essentials: Balanzza Travel Scale
This is a handheld scale that measures weight in both pounds and kilograms. It can go up to 50kgs which is more than the maximum weight per piece of luggage you take on a plane. It’s accurate and durable too. I find it being off +/- 0.2 kg compared to the airline scale. If you fly budget airlines like I do, this will save you a lot of money.
Photography: Fuji X100 camera
Warning: unless you like inflicting pain on yourself, don’t bring your Nikon or Canon near this camera. However, if you’re into street photography and you didn’t buy this hoping it would be the poor man’s Leica M9, you’ve got yourself an amazing camera. It’s light, it’s small, and it’s sensor and fixed lens are optimized to deliver outstanding image quality that will put to shame any APS-C Nikon or Canon. The cult following for this camera is well-justified. The X100 has in-camera RAW editing, simulations for classic Fuji films, HD video, and manual controls for aperture and shutter speed. For those who still know how to shoot with prime lenses and don’t want to carry around 10 lbs of gear, this might just be the camera for you.