My rice cooker review (Zojirushi LAC05XT: 3 cup fuzzy logic)

Zojirushi LAC05XT

I recently picked up a Zojirushi LAC05XT rice cooker and love it! Here are the specs for this model (taken from the Zojirushi product page):

  • Micro computerized Fuzzy logic technology
  • 3 cup size ideal for singles and smaller families
  • Easy-to-clean clear coated stainless steel exterior
  • Automatic keep warm
  • Built-in retractable power cord
  • Menu settings include: white/mixed, sushi, porridge, brown and quick cooking
  • cETLus listed
  • Instruction manual in English, French, Traditional Chinese and Korean
Model No. NS-LAC05
Capacity* 3 cups / 0.54 liter
Dimensions (W x D x H) 9-1/8 x 11-7/8 x 7-1/2 inches
Electrical Rating 120 volts / 450 watts
Color Stainless Steel, Stainless Black

And my review… this 3-cup rice cooker isn’t the cheapest on the market but is a great value:

* It cooks rice, steel cut oats, and other whole grains flawlessly and then automatically reduces heat to keep warm for several hours
* You can select a menu setting and then press “Cook,” or use 1 of 2 preset timers to complete cooking by a specific time
* Spherical cooking pan is nonstick and fairly heavy (excellent quality)
* The inner lid not only comes out for cleaning, but the rubber seal is part of the detachable inner lid (making it easier to clean)
* The musical alert when done cooking is pleasant and loud enough so I can hear it from other rooms
* This is a small rice cooker, perfect for singles or a small family (and a small footprint which is great for small kitchens)
* The cord is retractable (again, handy for a smaller kitchen)
* It has an attractive aluminum and black plastic exterior that is easy to clean and contemporary-looking
* It has a handle so you can take it with you — handy for a potluck
* It uses “fuzzy logic” to automatically adjust cooking time

I’ve used this rice cooker to cook whole grains (brown rice, black rice, wild rice, quinoa, steel cut oats) as well as mixed dishes (i.e., rice-based one pot dinners). I’m not the most sophisticated cook but everything I’ve cooked in this Zojirushi has turned out great. I’m sure my friends are beginning to get bored hearing how much I love waking up to freshly cooked steel cut oats for breakfast. ;-)

There are a few items folks may need to adjust to (not really “cons” just need to be aware of):
* Rice cooker cups are not the U.S. standard 8 ounce cup. I haven’t found this to be an issue, I just make sure I use the included cup. If I lose the cup, it’s easily replaceable via Zojirushi.com or Amazon.
* The clock/timer uses military time. Again, not a big deal… If you’re in the U.S., just add 12 hours onto the time you have in mind.
* It doesn’t include “high end” features like induction heating, umami setting, scorch setting, etc. For me, this isn’t an issue because the quality of this rice cooker is superb and does everything I need.
* The “feet” aren’t very grippy so I picked up some 1/2 inch rubbery sliders (also called “bumpers”) with adhesive on one side, and stuck them onto the 4 feet.

I’m very happy with the quality of this rice cooker and its output, and highly recommend it. This Zojirushi would make a great gift for family, friends, or yourself.

Note: I haven’t received any incentives from Zojirushi… just a happy customer

Get a $15 credit for joining Oyster Books (“the netflix of books”)

Screenshot 2014 07 05 11 45 33

I joined the Oyster and Scribd subscription ebook services to save some money since as a voracious reader, I’ve been spending a lot on Kindle books. I’ve found that I like Scribd but absolutely love Oyster:

  • I continuously find interesting books on Oyster
  • The Oyster apps for iOS and Android work well
  • Oyster’s Android app works great on the Onyx Boox T68 e-ink reader (far less page turn artifacting than other ereader apps like Scribd or Kindle)
  • The Oyster subscription cost of $9.95/month is very low considering you can read as much as you want. (Note: The Scribd subscription is low, too, at $8.99/month)

You can try Oyster and get a $15 account credit by joining via this link. If you decide you don’t like Oyster, you can cancel your subscription any time you like… but if you read a lot, I’m betting you won’t.

Onyx Boox T68 e-ink Reader that runs on Android 4.0.4 with Google Play: Initial impressions

 

T68

** Jun 29 update: I’ve been messing around with this a bit more today since Kindle Android app v4.2 doesn’t provide font choices. Today, I downloaded and installed Kindle Android app v4.4.0.71. Not only does 4.4.0.71 include font choices (yay!), I was delighted to find it also seems to *minimize* the page turn lag and distracting artifacting displayed during the page turn process. The artifacting doesn’t go away completely, but it’s much improved over what I saw with Kindle apk v4.2 or 4.5

Edited later: Okay, 4.4 works but after my Kindle (Cloud) library loaded, the page-turn artifacting seemed to return. Oh well, at least 4.4 includes different font choices.**

Original post:

Spoiler: I like it a lot! You’ll note as you read this article that some text has background shading — this is text I’ve copied from my mobileread.com forum post and I just couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it. It doesn’t signify anything special ;-)

As you read this article, bear in mind this comes from someone who’s generally rooted Nook hardware to run the Kindle app. I most recently rooted the Nook Simple Touch (NST). My only complaint was that the Kindle app on the rooted NST rendered font too thin for my taste. The Kindle app on T68 experience isn’t as “perfect” or refined as on the Paperwhite2, but it’s not bad if you can ignore some minor artifacts in between page turns… the rendered page/text looks fine.

Read on for my thoughts about the new Onyx Boox Lynx T68 ereader which runs on Android 4.0.4 with Google Play installed -

My T68 (ordered from Arta-Tech/onyx-boox.com in Poland last weekend) arrived today. By the way, my experience with Arta-Tech was stellar — they shipped promptly, responded to an email inquiry within minutes and generally provided an excellent purchase experience. Note that Amazon US is now carrying the T68, as well.

I wanted the T68 mainly to read Oyster, Scribd, and Kindle ebooks on the same e-ink reader rather than spending so much money on Kindle ebooks. Here are a few initial observations:

  • Oyster book app: Works pretty well and the rendered page looks great. There is a slight flash during page turns where the new page appears briefly, shows a blank page, then displays the new page (again). It’s pretty quick and I can live with it.
  • Scribd app: Has the same brief text overlap flash when turning pages (as I’ve been seeing with Kindle apps on the T68) but otherwise rendered text similar to the Oyster Book app.
  • Kindle app: I first installed the Kindle app from Google play store. I don’t know if it’s my huge library (I pick up alot of free books) or the size of my audible library, but the newest kindle app wasn’t very well-behaved (for me). I did a google search and found (then installed) Kindle app 4.2.0.101 and it’s working great. Font rendering isn’t quite as dark as the Paperwhite2 but much better than the Kindle app on a rooted Nook Simple Touch.
  • Case: The port cutouts don’t match the T68, but I have an old Kindle Fire (edited to correct: I believe it’s actually Kindle HD 7″) case that fits the T68 well. I wouldn’t mind getting a case specifically made for the T68 but this will protect it in my handbag until then.
Caution: I’m finding that the Kindle app works best when I only have a few (2 or 3 400 page) books downloaded to the T68. For me, that’s not a big deal since this device offers me the flexibility I’ve wanted ever since subscribing to the Scribd and Oyster Books monthly services.
 
If you’d like to see the T68 in action, there are several youtube videos posted. Some are foreign language, but the hardware (and third party app behavior, like Kindle) is demoed. I found these videos helpful as I contemplated buying the T68.
 
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the T68. Battery life has been very good, especially with wifi off in between ebook downloads. The hardware is good quality and I was happy to learn the o-ring around the button on the front works as a page forward/back controller for the kindle app. (It doesn’t work quite as well with the Oyster app and apparently not at all in the Scribd app, but the touch screen page turns work fine for all the reader apps I’ve listed.)

Dyson Hot & Cool Heater Fan: Post-recall perspective

dyson_hot_am04Recently, Dyson issued a recall for its AM04 and AM05 model Hot & Cool fans. These are expensive (approximately $400) but offer bladeless air movement and as such are generally safer for curious pets and small children. I’ve used Dyson fans for about 3 years: My first Dyson purchase was the tower fan (AM02).

A few months ago, I received email notification from Dyson that their Hot & Cool fans were under safety recall. The email asked me to submit my product registration number at their web site, and upon confirming that my product (1st generation Hot & Cool fan, AM04) was indeed being recalled, instructions for taking the fan to UPS to be packaged and reshipped to Dyson. I didn’t have to do anything special, just take the fan itself to UPS and they did all the work for me. UPS gave me a receipt to prove I’d shipped the fan back to Dyson.

Yesterday, I came home to find a Dyson Hot & Cool fan on my front porch, the result of my recall return. Upon inspection, I realized it was brand new and was the newer model (AM05) rather than the AM04 that I’d sent back. With summer starting this weekend, I was very happy to have my Hot & Cool fan back since I use it year-round in the living room.

So, what do I think about Dyson post-recall?

I am impressed by how Dyson stood behind their products, made the product return process hassle-free, and not only returned the replacement quickly, sent an upgraded model (since my AM04 apparently couldn’t be repaired). I don’t perceive safety recalls as a flaw in manufacturing per se — sometimes hardware/software bugs aren’t apparently immediately post-production. I’m very pleased that Dyson seemed to take action promptly upon identifying the problem, rather than dragging their feet (or even trying to hide the problem) like some companies.

Kudos, Dyson! Your products are expensive but work very well and I appreciate your product support: Consider me a satisfied (and now even more loyal) customer.

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2: How big is too big?

image

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro ™ 12.2 (Wi-Fi), White 32GB
http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T9000ZWAXAR

Recently, I’ve had a hankering to do some inking. Using a stylus and tablet to write has a wonderfully organic feel that I’d enjoyed when using digital ink on Galaxy Note Phones and an early generation Note tablet 10.1. So, I downloaded some handwriting apps onto my iPad Mini and Kindle HDX 8.9, got out a stylus and got started. l quickly remembered why I’d always preferred Samsung Note devices and S pen — they make inking super easy… no skips or stutters.

So I visited my friendly neighborhood Best Buy. l considered the Note 10.1 2014 edition but quickly became most interested in the elusive and mystical 12.2″ Note Pro, which wasn’t on display. When I asked about it, I learned an employee had one of her own and she’d be working the following day. As promised, she was there the next day, Note Pro 12.2 in hand. She let me try it out and although I’d expected to be appalled and deterred by its size, I found it to be not only pleasant but fun to use.

What did I like?
– The screen is bright and sharp
– The ability to view up to 4 apps simultaneously is very handy
– The S pen makes the inking experience super smooth
– Samsung’s S pen handwriting recognition software works very well, even with my nearly illegible scrawl
– The Samsung Note Pro’s digital ink apps are fun and useful, and especially show off the S pens’s capabilities

Although I haven’t had it long, l’ve been surprised and delighted by the Note Pro 12.2. I got a free keyboard case with it (part of limited Samsung promotion) but haven’t used it because the S pen experience is so good.

Moral of the story? As newer, larger tablets are released, don’t knock ‘em til you try’ em.

Review: Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading

Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading
Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading by Jason Merkoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone who loves to read and prefers to read using an e-ink reader (currently a Paperwhite 2), I found Burning the Page fascinating. The author describes the Kindle’s early days, offers kudos for Barnes & Noble’s innovative contributions (via their Nook e-reader), and describes his perspective for how ebooks are changing the way we read, learn and publish. Recommended.

View all my reviews

My favorite gadget of 2013: Roku 3

R3 frontAs a Netflix streaming video fan, I’ve picked up every version of the Roku (streaming video / audio) box that’s been released. I upgraded to the Roku 3 this year and consider it one of the best consumer tech buys out there.

Why do I love the Roku 3? Read on…

  • Inexpensive: The Roku 3 is normally priced at $99.99 — today it’s even cheaper at $10 off (89.99)
  • Fast: When I sit down to watch streaming video, I don’t want to watch the buffering symbol… I want to watch the movie! Roku 3 is fast, fast, fast. Very little buffering and steaming video / audio loads quickly.
  • Great video quality: Roku 3 is designed for use only with HDTVs and the video quality is gorgeous. Of course, the video source needs to be good quality, too.
  • Roku offers numerous streaming video sources (most are free): I love Amazon Prime Instant Video and have found Roku to be the easiest way to watch these movies and TV shows on my TV. Best of all? Roku is constantly adding new channels. Here are my Roku 3 channels:
    • Netflix (subscription)
    • hulu plus (subscription — sign up for free trial)
    • Amazon instant video (subscription / paid)
    • Crackle
    • Roku Newscaster (news from several different sources)
    • cnet
    • soma fm (internet radio)
    • tuneine (radio)
    • classical tv
    • livestation
    • CNN
    • WSJ live
    • Ted
    • TWIT
    • MIT unofficial OpenCourseware
    • NASA (which I used to watch the recent spacewalks)
    • Amazon cloud player (for my Amazon tunes)
    • iHeartradio
    • Smithsonian channel
    • CNN International
    • Nowhere TV
    • vevo
    • Rutgers
    • Frightpix
    • indieflix (Indie films)
    • Radio Paradise
    • Congressional video stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • Supreme Court audio stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • University of California’s uctv.tv
    • Pandora
    • Slacker
    • PBS
    • Russia Today Europe (news)
    • CNBC RT (real-time)
    • MHz networks
    • livestream
    • AOL On
    • Film Movement (award winning Indie films)
    • Youtube (currently only available on Roku 3)

Frankly, Roku offers so many channels that I use Roku Guide to keep up with new additions.

Aside from my smartphone and TiVo Roamio Pro, the Roku 3 is the gadget I use most often. At less than $100, it’s a steal. If you’ve never bought a Roku box and have an HDTV, I’d say go for it! If you have an earlier Roku box, I still say go for it… the speed improvements are significant enough to make it worthwhile.