Archive for the ‘Appliances’ Category

One-minute review: The Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand and Charging Station

You know there’s trouble ahead when a review starts with “I wanted to love this product.” I did want to love the The Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand and Charging Station, but, overall, I don’t.

The love list: It’s bamboo, and beautiful to the touch. It’s reasonably wide, with room enough for my 13″ MacBook and Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 (sort of), though it’s not exactly the best fit for my “Dave” Laptop Table by Ikea. The stand elevates my MacBook up a few extra inches, which provides less stress on my neck from angling my head downward all day. End of lovefest.

The don’t love list: The two so-called “docks” for gadgets are just recessed pockets with holes in the bottoms for cables and are not big enough accommodate my re-tooled iPhone Bluetooth Headset charging dock. That there are two of them means there’s less space on the right for my mouse hand. The company’s suggestion to hide a power strip underneath the stand and is fair enough, but because there’s no base to the stand the power strip and cables are left hanging when you lift the stand up. Worse, no base means you can’t comfortable rest the stand in your lap while sitting on the sofa.

As it stands the Kangaroom Bamboo Laptop Stand is definitely attractive at first glance, but unfortunately its usefulness bottoms out the moment you lift it off the table.

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Scissor Sisters: Brother sewing machines go high-tech with touch screen and PC connection

brothersew.jpgBrother unveiled the C-Combo line of high-tech sewing and embroidery machines that come tricked out with a LCD touch screens and PC connectivity.

The company says it got its inspiration for the new-tech needlers by shows like “Project Runway,” and cites a study by the Home Sewing Association that the art of sewing has increased by 5-million people since 2000. Oh, Brother.


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Review: LG WM3431HW Combo Washer & Dryer

I first learned about combo washer/dryers in 1999 in Manhattan, while checking out a potential sublet. I wound up in another apartment, but the idea of the tiny all-in-one machine that washes then dries clothes always came to mind whenever I endured vying for washers and dryers at the laundromat or dropped $15 to $20 per load at the wash and fold around the corner.

What makes combo washers so special is they don’t require hookups or the exhaust vent common to standard dryers. Instead, combo washer/dryers spin clothes at a super high speed, wringing most of the water away so the dry cycle has an easier time drying the load. Which brings up the top two minuses I’d read about when researching combo washer/dryers: A very long drying cycle and very wrinkled clothes.

Since my usual attire is a tee-shirt and jeans or shorts, the wrinkled part wasn’t a big deal, however the long drying cycle might be annoying.

So I was surprised and excited when the new home I moved into was outfitted with a combo washer/dryer, the LG WM3431HW. While the LG can be mounted on wheels and moved near a sink to tap into a faucet for water and the drain cycle, this one was neatly situated beneath the bathroom counter and hooked up to hidden hot and cold water taps in back.

The on/off switch bears the international symbol familiar to computers and other devices, and the Start/Pause button activates and pauses the machine at any point in the cycle. A twirl of the big know selects wash and dry cycles, which include Sanitary, Cotton/Towels, Normal, Perm Press, Delicates, Wool/Silk, Hand Wash and Speed Wash. Other buttons enable options like Extra Wash, Extra Rinse, Rinse + Spin, and Dry.

I tossed in a few towels, poured half a cap of detergent into the dispenser (with two additional slots for bleach and fabric softener), hit Start and through the front porthole window watched as the machine did its thing.

All was well during the 30-minute Speed Wash cycle – then all hell broke loose when the spin cycle kicked in. The LG shook and rocked like R2D2 in shock therapy, vibrating so violently it actually hammered itself halfway out from under the counter before I reached it and hit Stop.

I checked the manual, which states the machine must be on a level surface in order to function. It also mentioned four shipping bolts around back must be removed before operating the machine, but I didn’t worry about those since the thing was already installed and presumably operated by the prior tenants.

I adjusted and tightened the four feet, turned the machine on, and chose the Drain + Spin option. No luck. The LD did the same as before, rocking so wildly that using it was out of the question.

For the heck of it I pulled the machine out from under the counter to confirm that those shipping bolts had been removed when the machine was installed – and discovered they had not.

I unscrewed the bolts, pushed the unit back under the bathroom counter, and tried again – and this time the machine worked flawlessly, spinning the laundry at an incredibly high speed with practically zero vibration. I was amazed by how well it rung away the water, and doubly amazed when the estimated time for the dry cycle went from 2 hours and 30 minutes to less than an hour, thanks to an auto-sensor that adjusts accordingly.

The clothes came out somewhat wrinkled and very slightly damp but not wet, per se. A few shakes took away the wrinkles, and setting the clothes and towels out for a little while did away with the slight moisture. A More Dry option offers better drying, however the summer sun and a clothing rack on the porch have taken over that job, and my satisfaction with the LG WM3431HW has me absolutely beaming.

My verdict? I highly recommended the LG WM3431HW for solo occupants in small spaces where outside venting isn’t an option.

Just be sure to remove the shipping bolts before you hit Start.

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