Sometimes life throws you a curve…or a curved HDTV

Back in December we replaced our aged Sharp Aquos HDTV with a new Vizio model. As is my way, I spent considerable time researching the purchase.

At the time I knew what I wanted to spend, and had some guidance about how large I could go without getting into trouble. We were replacing a 42″ model and Stella did want something too much bigger.

Along the way, I noticed that there appeared to be a passing fashion in curved HDTVs. I say “passing” because in Q4-2016 the curved models were very heavily discounted, where their flat counterparts were not.


Similarly, I’ve seen curved computer monitors offered at greater discounts than comparable flat models from the same manufacturer. Although the trend is not as pronounced with computer monitors.

I had my doubts about curved displays for general use. My suspicion seems to have been well-founded, since a writer at The Verge today posted a short and rather pointed negative review of their new, curved Samsung HDTV.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the display or the electronics. It’s just that the curved geometry virtually ensures that you’re going to suffer a huge amount of glare in any typical viewing environment.

I settled upon a 50″ Vizio M Series (M50-D1) as being the best choice. It was a newer model and very well reviewed in multiple places, including CNet,, Digital Trends, amongst many others. Everyone liked the product, which gave me some confidence.

I may have something to say about the Vizio TV one day soon. It lacks a tuner and comes with a low-end Android tablet as a remote control. So far we’re pretty happy with it.

Do you have one of the curved TVs or monitors? Do you think the curve is a good thing?

A Story About Keeping The Wine Cool

wine coolerA few years ago my wife gave me a lovely Kenmore Elite wine cooler as a gift. This appliance lives in our kitchen, doing exactly what you’d expect. That is, until last month. Last month the cooler temperature went down to near freezing and could not be adjusted. Thirty-six degrees Fahrenheit is much too cold for wine.

Since it’s a Kenmore appliance I called the Sears appliance repair service to come service the gadget. The technician arrived and diagnosed the issue based solely upon my description of the problem. He said that controller board was faulty and should be replaced. It seemed a sensible diagnosis.

He then quoted me $130 for the part and $275 in labor to install it. With taxes, the repair was going to cost around $450. That’s not much less than the cost of a comparable, brand new wine cooler. A new cooler would have a warranty.

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Ooohhh! This looks cool: USB Charger with a Built-in Ethernet Adapter!

USB-OTG is very handy. It allows someone to connect a variety of different USB devices to a tablet or mobile phone. Most often I’ve made use of a simple USB OTG cable to connect a flash drive or USB headset to one of my devices.

You can also use a USB hub to connect multiple devices, all while keeping the tablet powered. I have on occasion connected a USB headset or Blue Yeti microphone. These I use in conjunction with Audio Tool.

Today I discovered that Google offers a USB charger that has a built-in Ethernet adapter. Called the Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast, it’s just $15 from the play store!

Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast

This is fantastic since it eliminates reliance upon WiFi as the primary means of connectivity! That could make many things, admittedly obtuse things, that I might wish to try more reliable. As I’ve stated previously, wherever possible I prefer to leverage Ethernet over WiFi.

I simply had to have one of these for use with my new nVidia Shield K1 tablet! There’s an open question as to whether it will work with the K1, It only delivers 850 mA, which may not be enough for some devices. At just $15 it’s a risk I’m willing to take. More news to follow once the goody arrives.

Ye Ha! NoMo WEMO!!

About 18 months ago I succumb to my impulsive side and purchased a Belkin WEMO LED Light Starter Kit. That kit included the WEMO interface and two of their Zigbee remote controlled light bulbs. Since I had “grand plans” I also ordered another six WEMO bulbs.

I must admit that I had my doubts about Belkin‘s WEMO offerings, but since the starter kit was just $25 at the time, I thought it worth a try. With just $120 invested in WEMO I sought to revisit remote controlled lights for my office, and perhaps elsewhere in the house.

Jumping ahead in time….I’m very pleased to report that I recently sold that collection of WEMO products to a neighbor, recouping about a quarter of my original investment!

Seriously, that WEMO lighting was some of the most infuriating tech to cross my path in recent years. I cannot believe that a big company would offer such a cheesy product.
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Some Thoughts About Grandstream

In VUC625: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly I offered Grandstream as an example of a company going in a good direction. I didn’t start out feeling this way. This post describes my history with their products, and the evolution of my opinion about the company.

Voice: The Early Impression

grandstreamBT-101The very first Grandstream product I even held in my hands was the infamous BT-101. It was possibly the very first affordable SIP hard phone, which is why a friend bought one. Beyond merely affordable, it was cheap. Everything about it was cheap, which tainted my view of the company.

To be fair, there were a lot of really bad SIP desk phones at that time. Grandstream’s strategy was to own the entry level space, which they did, handily.

As a result of that initial experience with the BT-101, I actually bought a snom 200.

It wasn’t long before I was gifted (yes, gifted!) a Polycom Soundpoint IP600. That device won me over completely. It was superior in every way. It lived on my desk for years, not displaced until the Soundpoint IP650 brought HDVoice to my attention.

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