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Amazon Products Reviews

By Gary F. Zeolla

Reviews of and direct links to products on Amazon.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Smart Phone

Using it far more than I thought I would

Back in January 2010 I got my first cell phone, a Net10 texting phone. I posted on Facebook that I felt like I was the last person in the USA to get a cell phone. Someone responded to that post, “You were!” By April of 2014 I was feeling like the only person in the USA without a smart phone. Even my dad had upgraded from a flip phone to a smart phone! So I took the plunge and got the then just released Samsung Galaxy S5. Upgrading from a texting phone to this smart phone has been an amazing experience. I wasn't sure if it would be worth the extra cost for a smart phone, as I didn't think I would use the "smart" functions that much, but boy was I wrong! I use the phone for a lot of things I hadn't planned on or even thought of.

For instance, I go for walks regularly for my morning cardio. Previously I used an old-fashioned watch and a clip-on pedometer to measure my duration and distance, but now I use the exercise timer and pedometer on the S5, and I think it is more accurate than the pedometer. When I am away from my desktop PC, I use the S5 to check Facebook, Twitter, and Google News (my primary new source). I use the Smart Remote ap to turn my Toshiba 40" LED TV on and off when the DVR is recording something, as I have the cable remote set to turn both the TV and DVR on and off at the same time. I jot reminders down in the Memo ap and keep appointments in the Calendar ap. I regularly check the weather with the AccuWeather ap. And I am becoming a real camera buff, whereas I rarely took pictures before; but it is so easy with the S5, and I always have it with me, so why not?

And once I started downloading aps, that really opened the door for more stuff to use the S5 for. There was a free Bible ap, "You Version," available in the Play Store, so it was the first ap I downloaded. It works great and has many versions available including the NKJV, my favorite Bible version. I then downloaded a couple of Bible trivia aps, so I now use my S5 for reading and studying the Bible. Then in May I got lost in downtown Pittsburgh coming home from visiting my nephew, so I downloaded MapQuest's GPS ap, and that has been working great at keeping me from getting lost again.

After I got my Roku 3500R Streaming Stick, I download the Roku remote ap. That is much easier to use than the Roku remote when tying in data, like my user name and password for the Roku or searching for programs in Amazon's Instant Video. Then I downloaded aps for my favorite sports teams: the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Steelers, and Penn State. So I check schedules, stats, and other info on them on the S5. I downloaded the Weather Channel's ap for another "opinion" on the weather (although I've found AccuWeather to be more accurate). And most recently, I downloaded a "white noise" ap to use if I take a nap during the day (I use a LectroFan White Noise Machine at night, as the ap doesn't cancel out noise as much as the LetroFan does). I know this might all be basic stuff to you long-time smart phone users, but for those of us new to this technology, it is truly astonishing.

Since this is my first smart phone, I cannot say how it compares to other smart phones. But I can comment on a couple of points I've seen mentioned in reviews of the S5. The first issue is the battery life. With my old texting phone, I only had to charge it up a couple of times a week, but I then I do not make too many phone calls or send very many texts. With the S5, I'm charging it about every other day. But with as many things as I use it for, I don't think that is unreasonable. As long as it lasts a full day, I'd be happy. Second, it is true that you can not multi-task with it. If I were to get a phone call while on my morning walk, I would need to pause the exercise timer to answer it. But no matter, as I'd probably do that anyway.

I have had a couple of problems with it. First, a while ago, I was trying to listen to KLove (a Christian radio station) via their Web site on the S5's speaker while checking Facebook. But then for some strange reason, a notice popped up saying headphones had been attached even though I hadn't plugged in headphones, and the speaker stopped working. I messed around with it for a while, but couldn’t get the headphones icon off or hear KLove. Pandora was on my phone, so I set up an account and tried it, but still no sound. Then I thought of just plugging in headphones and unplugging them, and the headphones icon disappeared, and the  speaker worked again. Since I now had Pandora set up, I figured I might as well check it out. I was pleased to find it had an even greater variety and amount of Christian music than Rhapsody that I had been using, including much Christian hard rock and even white metal (a.k.a. Christian metal). So I now listen to it on my cell phone, and I switched to Pandora from Rhapsody on my PC. And I even listen to it on my HDTV via my Roku. So that strange occurrence on the S5 proved beneficial.

But the second wasn't quite so beneficial. Samsung advertises the S5 as being water resistant. It is NOT. Mine got wet and got ruined. But thank God I had Verizon's phone warranty. So Verizon overnighted me a new phone. But just the main part of the phone; I had to transfer the battery, back cover, and SIM card from the old one (along with my SanDisk MicroSD card). But still, I was thankful for the replacement. I charged it up that night, and activated it the next morning. I had a few snags along the way, but it did automatically restore my contacts from the Cloud, and I had all of my pics on the micro SD card. But it messed up my Caller ID pics, so I needed to manually reset those. I also needed to reset all of my preferences, re-download all of my aps, and reset those. So I had a lot of work to do.

I kept my texting phone in a snack Zip bag to keep it from getting wet, but I didn’t think I needed to do that with the S5 supposedly being water resistant. And I didn’t think the touch screen would work with plastic over it. But I then discovered that a Giant Eagle brand snack zip bag fits very snug on the S5 (with an added border), and the touch screen works just fine. So I have been keeping it in that ever since. It might look a little weird, but it is better than that happening again. The border I am referring to is Amzer Border Case for Samsung Galaxy S5 .

Overall, I am very pleased with my Galaxy S5. I am using it far more than I thought I would, and it does  all that I want it to. But I am only giving it four stars due to the false advertising about it being water resistant.


SanDisk Ultra 64GB MicroSDXC Class 10 UHS Memory Card

Inexpensive but fast and reliable

I got my Samsung Galaxy S5in April 2014 at a Verizon store. When I did, I also wanted a micro SD card for it. They showed me a 64 GB SanDisk card that cost $100. I thought that sounded like way too much. But they told me it was super fast new type of card, that is why it sounded expensive. So not being sure, I went ahead and bought it. When I got home, I checked Amazon and found the exact same card for $34. So I ordered a second card from Amazon and returned the first card to Verizon. I've had the second card installed in my S5 for six months now, have saved many pictures and videos to it, and have not had a single problem with it. Even when the S5 got wet and got ruined, when I transferred the SD card to the new S5 Verizon sent me (since I had Verizon's phone warranty), the SanDisk card still worked just fine.

The card seems plenty fast. I have no problems saving pics or videos to it, displaying the pics or playing the videos, or transferring the pics and videos to my PC. And at 64GB, I doubt I will ever fill it up, even with becoming somewhat of a camera buff since getting my S5. I am giving this SanDisk 64 GB Micro SD card five stars for it being an inexpensive but fast and reliable card.


Amzer Border Case for Samsung Galaxy S5

Fits just fine and should protect the phone if dropped

I got my Samsung Galaxy S5 in April at a Verizon store. When I did, they recommended I get a cover for it to protect it. The cover they showed me covered the back and sides of the S5 and cost $25. That seemed rather expensive, but having no idea what such a cover should cost and not wanting to risk damage to my first smart phone, I bought the cover. That weekend was Easter, so we had a family get-together. My nephew showed me his smart phone and the border he had for it. The border only covered the sides of the phone, but he explained how that is all that was needed to protect the phone. The rubber border sticks out just enough in the front and back that if the phone is dropped, the border will protect it. Only if the screen hits a rock directly would it get damaged.

How he explained it made sense to me, so when I got home I looked for such a border on Amazon for my S5 and found this Amzer product.  It only cost $8, so I ordered it and returned the cover to Verizon. This border fit just fine on my S5, with no problems accessing the ports. I have never dropped the phone, so I cannot say for sure how well this border protects it, but I'm not about to drop it just to find out! But the black border does look nice on my white S5. So I am happy I got it and am giving it five stars.


NOOT® Samsung Galaxy S5 Ultra Fast Charging USB 3.0 Data Cable

A complete waste of money

I got Samsung Galaxy S5 in April 2014 a week after it came out. Then in May I ordered a four pack of this charging cable. The one that came with the phone was still working just fine, but I wanted to have one to leave connected to my PC for transferring pictures, and I wanted to have an extra one "just in case." I ordered the four pack as it wasn't much more expensive than a two pack. But when they came, I was immediately disappointed. The NOOT cables were much shorter than the one that came with the phone. So I had to use the original cable on my PC, as the NOOK one was not long enough to reach behind it to the USB port I planned on leaving the cable in.

I charged up my phone once without problems with this NOOK cable and then a second time. But the third time, it would not work. I fiddle with it for a while, but the phone would not read it. So I pulled out a second one, and it worked--once, then stopped working. So I tried a third one, and it worked twice, then stopped working. I didn't bother to try to last one. I returned all four to Amazon and got my money  refunded. (Thank you Amazon for your good return policy). I then  used that same amount of money to buy just one cable plus wall adapter from my local Verizon store (Version doesn't sell them separately). As the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." That Verizon cable has been working just fine every since. And as a bonus, it charges my phone faster than the original cable or these NOOK ones did, few times they worked. So I am giving these NOOK cables just one star as they are a complete waste of money.


TaoTronics® Universal Windshield & Dashboard Car Mount Cradle Holder for Galaxy S5

Works for workout videos

I got a Samsung Galaxy S5 in April 2014 a week after it came out. Then in May I got lost in downtown Pittsburgh coming home from visiting my nephew. So I downloaded MapQuest's GPS ap and that has been working great at keeping me from getting lost again. But I was just placing it in the cup holder in my 2012 Chevy Cruze, so I got this product so I could actually see it.

I first figured out how to use it by sticking it to the top of my washing machine, and it stuck very firmly. But that is of course a smooth, flat surface. When I tried attaching it to the top of my dash, it would not stick at all.  When I looked closely at the top of the dash, it is not smooth. There are small ridges, forming a tight crisscross pattern. Those small ridges are probably letting air in under the suction cup, so it does not hold. This product comes with an adhesive pad that can be attached to the dash for better holding. However, I just got the car and did not want to attach an adhesive anything to it that might not come off, so I did not try that. And unfortunately, when I got this product, I set it aside and kind of forgot about it, so I didn't try it until I had it for over a month. So it was too late to return it when I found it wouldn't work for me.

I would recommend you look closely at where you are planning on attaching this device. It must be perfectly smooth. If is isn't, it probably will not stick, unless you're willing to permanently stick an adhesive pad to the location. And be sure to try it out as soon as you get it, so if it doesn't work, you can still return it. I am giving this product two stars as it did not work for me, but it might for someone else.

Update: I wanted to take workout videos in my home gym using my Galaxy S5, but it took a while to figure out how to set it up. I ended up using a this phone holder I got a year ago to use in my car. It didn’t work for that as it didn’t stick on my dash, but in my review of it I mention that I first tried it on the top of my washing machine, and it stuck just fine. I remembered that and dug it out and put it there, and it's been working great. I’m just glad I didn’t pitch it. As such, this smart phone holder is useful for such purposes, just not what it is advertised for. Thus I am increasing my rating to four stars.


Motorola W409G Prepaid Phone (Net10)

Good for the tech inept

I had a Net10 texting phone for three years before I got my current Samsung Galaxy S5 smart phone. I never had any problems with Net10. Their phone service was reliable and renewing days and minutes was easy. I especially liked that the minutes rolled over, as  I don't make very many calls, so I would usually run out of time before minutes. So when my 79 year old mom said she wanted a cell phone, I looked for a Net10 phone for her. I figured she wouldn't make that many calls, so a pay-as-you-go plan would be ideal for her.

I also know she is rather technological inept, so I figured I'd better get the easiest to use cell phone as possible, and a flip phone would fit that bill. I was glad to see Amazon had this Motorola Net10 flip phone available, so I could order from them rather than Net10 and save the shipping charge with Prime. When I got the phone, I set it up for my mom with no problems. It only took a few minutes. I gave the phone to her and explained how to use it as best as I could.

She obviously has no problems using it, as she calls me often enough on it! It sounds just fine when I talk to her, and she's had it for a month now and has not had any problems as far as I know. As such, I would recommend this phone and Net10 for anyone looking for an easy to use phone and reliable but not too expensive phone service.


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