Thursday, February 22, 2018

Kenmore 7212 Microwave Review Roundup

The Kenmore 7212 is a countertop microwave model that tries to keep things simple while still offering plenty of features for the average kitchen. Does it succeed? Let's find out what users have to say! Read Next: The Top Countertop Microwaves Money Can Buy

Features of the Kenmore 7212 Microwave

The Kenmore as 1.2 cubic feet of internal space for cooking, and 1100 watts to do it with, both respectable numbers for a family home microwave. It offers sensor function cooking and several presets. As with many microwaves these days, it comes with an internal coating to help make cleaning a little easier, especially if you don't want to use harsh chemicals. There is no handle on this model, but it does have a 12.4-inch turntable. Pros
  • Accurate sensor heating
  • Customization for multi-stage and favorite cooking times
  • A high failure rate within a year of use

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports and its users disagreed on a lot about this model. CR found that it had great even heating and defrosting, was easy to use, and was one of the quietest models they tested. So many users chimed in to say it had poor performance and loud noise issues that CR actually made a note in its review. That puts this review at pretty much a draw, and makes us wonder if they were testing two separate models (there are a couple different versions of the 7212, CR tested the 72123).
"After researching various reviews and sites, I bought this Kenmore 72123 model today because of its high rating for an 1100 watt capacity counter model. Some reviewers mentioned it was extremely quiet, others that it's very loud. Well, it's going back tomorrow. Simply heating water for tea made such a loud buzzing racket that it startled my dog two rooms away from the kitchen as the magnetron cycled on and off. Maybe it was simply a bad day at the factory. Too bad, not many mid-size counter WVs higher than 1000 watts out there (at least 1100 watts is recommended for thoroughly heating frozen dinners and potpies)."

Sears Users

Sears users didn't have many problems with performance: Their issue was longevity. There are multiple accounts of various components only lasting for a year or two: Then the internal light would burned out, the turntable would stop working, or another part would fail and keep the microwave from working properly. On the plus side, the sensor cook option and shortcut buttons did get some praise.
"It does take up some space though on your counter top and make sure you put it on top of some cloth or rough surface because it keeps sliding when trying to open..or you have to use both hands to hold and to open it..I bought a side table to accommodate this but it keeps slipping back b'coz of the smooth shiny surface.Been using for 6 months now.The closing /opening does make a lot of noise."

Amazon Users

Amazon users also had quite a few complaints about components that fail after a year or so of light use – something that tends to make customers pretty unhappy. However, they also had some words of praise for this model, mostly about how easy the buttons are to understand and use and how it is quieter than old school microwaves.
"A horrible product. Design-wise: no handle on the door, the 'cook time' button is muted and small even though that's the most common command used. Quality is VERY poor: within a year the power/ heating became variable and inconsistent and now, just barely 2 years past the purchase date, it's dead. I know microwaves don't last 20 years anymore, but this is a RIP OFF. Don't waste your money on this incredibly crappy product."

Bottom Line

Longevity issues keep this microwave from being a serious countertop consideration.

Kenmore 7212 Microwave Review Roundup is available on

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Vitamix 7500 Blender Review Roundup

Unlike the Blendtec models, the Vitamix 7500 blender ($520) is all about traditional controls: You won't find any high tech features anywhere near this blender, but you will find a whole lot of power. Is that enough? Let's take a look at features and reviews!

Features of the Vitamix 7500 Blender

The Vitamix comes with a 1656 watt motor, probably the most powerful outside of professional blenders designed for restaurants. It also has a fairly large 64-ounce jar that can hold a lot of ingredients at one time. Other than the 10 variable speed options, there's really not a lot of other features to talk about, here. Pros
  • Sturdy and very powerful
  • Excellent jar design
  • No extra features
  • Outdated controls


C-Net found the Vitamix blender to be very consistent in results and very, very easy to use. In fact, their review pointed out that it may be a little too easy to use – the controls are so traditional and simple that you lack customization and there aren't really any extra features for making adjustmnets or moving to different modes. It's more of a sight and feel blender, which may not be for everyone.
"If you're a blender fanatic who's dead set on buying a super-high-powered machine, you'll want to look at what Blendtec has to offer alongside Vitamix, as both performed well in our tests, with mostly aesthetic differences between the two brands (Blendtec offers a touch-screen interface while Vitamix offers a physical dial, for instance). If you choose Vitamix, you'll also want to be sure and consider its other models. The Vitamix 5200, for example, offers the same general level of performance as the 7500, but costs about $80 less."

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports noted that the blender did extremely well in all of its tests: This makes sense, because CR is primarily interested in mechanical tests that judge how well a blender completes specific tests. Thanks to its super-powerful motor, the Vitamix model zipped through these tests effortlessly. However, that doesn't say much about features. It is worth noting that the lowest spec score from CR was "Noise," which rated merely a "Good."
"Icy Drinks (Smoothies): This model performed excellent in our icy drinks (Smoothies) test, sensory panelists judged the smoothness and thickness of non-alcoholic pina coladas made by each model. Blenders that do well for icy drinks also do well for smoothies. Puree: This model performed excellent in our pureeing soup test. Ice Crush: This model performed excellent in our ice crush test, which gauges how well blenders crush ice without water using a non pulse function. Noise: This model was judged good for how noisy the blender is, running with 1 cup of water for 30 secs."

Amazon Users

Amazon users generally agreed that this Vitamix model was very expensive, but also an excellent performer that could easily blend anything, and excelled at liquifying ingredients with high-powered action. There is one note, however – some models appear to dislodge Teflon particles into the food, a design flaw that appears to only hit a small number of the blenders.
"I bought the Vitamix hoping to make green smoothies and fruit smoothies. I was really excited by the machine's power. However I noticed tiny black specks on my smoothies. I did a Google search and found out the specs are Teflon particles!! Really, Vitamix?? Then I found out Vitamix is aware of this problem since last summer and hasn't done anything to address it! And continues to sell the product!!! When I pay this much money for a product hoping to improve my family's eating habits, I should expect not having teflon pieces in my food. I will not serve my family Teflon with their smoothies. I'm returning it."

Bottom Line

This Vitamix blender can liquify pretty much anything with ease and is surprisingly quiet for its power. However, it doesn't offer anything in the way of extra features, customization, or high tech components.

The article Vitamix 7500 Blender Review Roundup See more on: GadgetReview Reviews Difference

Panasonic NN-SN651B Microwave Review Roundup

The Panasonic NN-SN651B (around $130) may not have a cool name, but this countertop microwave comes in several different styles and promises modern tech like inverter cooking, hoping to appeal to as many kitchens and cooks as it can. Does the effort pay off? Let's look.

Panasonic NN-SN651B Features

This model has 1.2 cubit feet of space and 1200 watts of cooking power, so while it isn't huge, it is suitable for larger microwave tasks – and the 13.5-inch turntable can handle larger plates, too. Programming includes 10 power levels (more meaningful with inverter technology), sensor reheating, popcorn, keep warm, and several presets for popular food. This model does not have a handle. Pros
  • Inverter technology for accurate power levels and fast cooking
  • Sensor heat options
  • 1200 watts of power for more intense tasks
  • No handle


Ovenshopper takes time to talk about the inverter technology, which is a more accurate way to control power in the microwave, and tends to get you faster results...although you may have to relearn microwave times for your favorite foods. The review also found the basic customization buttons like sensor reheat and sensor cook did their jobs quite well. On the downside, it's apparently a sort of noisy model.
"The microwave is a classic design with clean lines, and the control panel sits to the right (which includes an LED display to the top that acts as a clock and timer), with a few one-touch option keys beneath. Below that you have a 0-9 numbered keypad. Unfortunately, the controls and LED might not be to everyone’s taste. If you have low lighting in your kitchen or your eyesight isn’t what it once was you may have trouble with the LED display and being able to tell what button does what. Again, this goes back to design since the control panel blends in with the overall look of the microwave."

Home Depot Users

Home Depot users gave this model a very high average score. Those who had earlier Panasonic models noted that the microwave design had improved, and that the combination of extra 1,200 watt power and inverter technology meant that it could reheat very quickly. There was also confirmation that the sensor heat options do indeed work well.
"I bought this product to replace one of the same model number. I see they have made some changes. The door works more easily. The keypad works a little harder though. The light stays on when the door is open. Not sure i like that feature . I like to leave the door open to let the microwave air out. Now, the light is on when the door is open as well as during the cooking cycle. Overall, I like the features, the number and type of presets, Sensor Reheat, Sensor Cook, and the Inverter Technology. It is a great machine."

Amazon Users

Amazon users were happy to find a model that heats fast and has sensor options that appear largely accurate. However, the lack of a handle did annoy some, since it can make a microwave more difficult to operate (and may decrease the lifespan of your door).
"Also, It doesnt feel cheap and the button to open it doesn't stick. I also like that you can just press the buttons for the time that you want instead of having to hit a specific input time button or turn a dial or do some other form of annoying time wasting step. You just press 1-3-0 start for a minute 30. Exactly how it should be. I have been using it more and more, and it heats food quickly and evenly. I have had to adjust my microwave intuition (setting it for how much your food really needs) because it gets hot pretty quickly. Again, satisfied and would recommend!"

Bottom Line

A strong all-around model, this Panasonic microwave is a great middle of the road option for a busy kitchen or office. However, it may be a little too large and more powerful than necessary for a one-person kitchen accessory. Read Next: Countertop Microwave Ovens and Their Review

Panasonic NN-SN651B Microwave Review Roundup was first seen on Gadget Review - honest reviews that help

Plantronics RIG Flex Review Roundup

The Plantronics RIG Flex gaming headset (Related: is designed for a variety of different platforms, and promises a lightweight design and superior gaming sound experience...but you'll need an adapter to play on consoles like the Xbox One. How does this headset hold up, according to the reviews?

Plantronics RIG Flex Gaming Headset Features

The Flex comes with an audio adapter to better control and amp up sound, 3 EQ settings for major sound boosts, and a noise-canceling mic for communication. The headset comes with two different cables, one for gaming and one for mobile devices. Read More: Gaming Headset Top Rated Reviews Pros
  • Plenty of audio customization
  • Works well with mobile devices
  • Struggles with some treble
  • Controls can be awkard
  • Design may be a little delicate, and cables are required

Tom's Guide

For this Plantronics model, Tom's Guide found that they produced great sound for the Xbox One, and came with a particularly handy audio adapter that allowed for customized uses. However, they also noted that the physical design, while lightweight, wasn't that great – with too many delicate parts and controls that were hard to use while wearing the headset.
"The Flex LX's three sound presets let you highlight either the high, mid or bassy lower frequencies. I mostly stuck with the extra-crisp highs, but I appreciated just how booming the bass boost was. It might be a little distracting for competitive play, but hearing my rifle burst out bullets as if I were on the battlefield was mighty satisfying. Plantronics is known for making some of the best headphones in the business, so it's no surprise that music sounds pretty great on the Flex LX. Whether I was cranking Four Year Strong's guitar-heavy rock tracks or vibing out to Taylor Swift's silky pop tracks (don't hate), I was treated to meaty bass, clear vocals and crisp treble tones."

PC Mag

PC Mag enjoyed that the strong sound this headset offers could be used on mobile devices as easily as console gaming. However, it found the sound generally mid-range instead of a top tier, and noted especially that treble sounds were weak. They were also a little disappointed that the headset was a wired version instead of wireless, especially at this particular price.
"There are no controls on the headphones themselves—just a single port on the left ear cup for connecting either of the two headset cables. One cable has a built-in boom mic that bends in front of the face, and the other has an in-line microphone and smartphone controls. The former cable is best for using the RIG at home with your PC or game system, and the latter cable is designed for use when connected directly to your smartphone, so it can double as a set of-on-the-go headphones with a microphone for taking calls."

Amazon Users

Amazon users focused on the clariety of the headset, and how the mic could clearly pick up sounds. However, they had some issues with certain parts of the design, such as the lack of environment noise barriers (other people could hear the headset) and itchy earphone material, which may or may not be an issue for you.
"I had read the reviews on these particular headphones and they were rated higher than the Turtle Beach Ear Force One. I found it difficult to beat out the Turtle Beach. I also read that they feel delicate but ordered them anyway. I am glad that I did. The comfort level wearing these is huge compared to other headsets I have and have had. The sound is amazing. The ease of hooking these up was fantastic. I have to adjust the sound using the Xbox One connector and I do wish there was a swivel or something on the ear piece for me to do it but it's not a big deal. I highly suggest these headphones."

Bottom Line

Try to pick up this headset in person to make sure that it's what you want – and make sure you pick up the audio adapter if you are playing on Xbox. Otherwise, get ready to learn some new software.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Turtle Beach XO One Review Roundup

The Turtle Beach XO One headset is primarily designed as a "starter" headset for console players who think they may prefer headphones, but don't want to spend a ton of money. Is this a good place to enter the headset world? Let's take a look at key features and what reviewers think.

Turtle Beach XO One Key Features

This compact headset (more headset reviews here: provides 50mm drivers for powerful sound, a plugin mic, and compatible with all 3.5mm mobile devices. It comes with an audio controller for extra optimization and in-game audio control, as well as mic monitor capabilities and a bass boost mode. Pros
  • Compact and durable
  • Very affordable compare to similar headphones
  • Ear cups are a little small
  • Doesn't have the sound quality of higher end headphones

Digital Trends

Digital Trends found that the XO One was a great starter headset, an ideal purchase for the console gamer who hasn't really tried headsets before but still wants to see if they work or enjoy some extra privacy. DT also noted that the sound is surprisingly complete for an entry-level headset.
"Though the XO One is Turtle Beach’s “entry-level” gaming headset, it will outperform most contenders in the sound quality department alone (save, perhaps, Polk’s Striker series). Add on convenient features such as game/chat audio balance, bass boost, variable mic monitoring, and a detachable microphone, and you’ve got a high-value product on your ears."

Honest Games Reviews

Honest Games was a little taken aback at how "basic" the compact XO One headset looked, but quickly found that the removable mic, sound quality, and comfort were all commendable for console gaming, a particular specialty of Turtle Beach. They did note that the cable may be a little short depending on how you like to sit when you game, so that might be worth some tests.
"I’ve used this headset both for gaming and also day-to-day music use on my laptop while typing things up for the site, and just like I expected I’ve had no issues at all. The quality of sound from the headset on both my console and laptop has been what I would have expected from a Turtle beach headset, with no issues of crackling or the bangs of  a beat in a song or a grenade in Halo all coming through crystal clear with the whole month or so I’ve played with them. The bass can be increased more so when gaming as the pad adapter has a bass boost button on which you can press once to twice depending how much of a boost you want, and that does make the sounds of bullets or grenades and so on that little bit deeper in each 50mm speaker in each ear."

Amazon Users

Amazon users largely agreed that, for a headset under $100, the XO One has a surprising number of features and can function well during many types of gaming. This, combined with the durable nature of the headset, had a lot of people exited to find out just what their Turtle Beach headset could do.
"If you're looking for a basic controller for under $100, go with these. It even comes with a small cable to connect to your Xbox in case you haven't done the controller update that makes this headset compatible. They have the mic monitoring feature which allows you to hear your own voice as you talk to your party members. This prevents unnecessary shouting as they do block out quite a bit of ambient noise, so this is a nice feature. In fact, that feature alone was the major selling point for me."

Bottom Line

The XO One is an affordable and effective entry level headset for those on a budget...but you may eventually want an upgrade. Take a look at other, larger XO models, too.

Turtle Beach XO One Review Roundup was originally published to Reviews by GadgetReview

Monday, February 19, 2018

Astro A50 Review Roundup

The Astro A50 is a surround sound wireless headset that's especially friendly toward consoles and boasts a sharp design – but how do these headphones really perform? Let's take a look at what gamers and reviewers have had to say.


The A50 provides Dolby 7.1 virtual surround sound, with a battery life of around 15 hours and a couple different options for headphone material for extra comfort. The headset does support line in connections for other types of audio, and provides audio software if you are tweaking settings carefully on a desktop. The construction is designed to be as light as possible. Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent surround sound
  • Wireless
  • Charging dock can be difficult to use

PC World

PC World liked the upgrade to the battery and the new charging system, but they weren't convinced that a full dock was needed to charge the headset instead of a plug-in system that would have taken up less room. They were also uncertain if the excellent sound warranted such a high price in a market (around $250) that is becoming increasingly competitive with many lower cost options available.
"I also found myself leaving the A50 in a perpetual “On” state, thanks to a more invisible improvement: internal gyros. The previous A50 (and most wireless headsets) would automatically turn off if it didn’t detect any audio being played for a certain amount of time—say, five minutes. But the new A50 detects movement, so if you set the headset on a desk for 30 seconds it’ll automatically shut off. Lift it up and put it back on and by the time you’ve done that, it has probably paired back up with the base station and is ready to play audio again."

Tom's Guide

Tom's Guide loved the surround sound that the Astro A50 can put out, and noted that the headset was surprisingly lightweight for all the features it provided, making it useful for long gaming sessions. The only downsides that the reviewer noted were that the mic was just okay at picking up your voice, and the sound management app could get a little confusing.
"The new Astro A50 is a perfect example of "If it ain't broke, just make it a little bit better." This premium wireless gaming headset retains the superbly comfy design and satisfying surround sound of its predecessor, while introducing the feature-rich Base Station and some neat software tools for casual gamers, streamers and competitors. It even has modular ear cups this time around. Although its microphone and companion app could use some improvement, the Astro A50 is still the best high-end wireless gaming headset you can buy."

Amazon Users

Amazon users were mostly filled with praise for the headset and its sound quality, which apparently hit the sweet spot for buyers. However, many noted a common problem: It was tough to position the headset on the dock in the right manner for it to start charging, which soon became aggravating (having reviewed a few A50 models, we can say that this can be an issue at times).
"After having these for almost a month, I have not once experienced any of the problems people were saying they were having with the headset. I’m sure most people who have seen issues have had the headset for much longer than a month, so maybe it’s just a time thing, but I will happily update this post if I experience any of the issues. What I love about this headset Is that it is very comfortable. The cups don’t even touch my ears, the headband sits nicely on top of my head without any pains. The sound quality is amazing, and to my surprise, the mic quality really isn’t that bad."

Bottom Line

The Astro A50 is a great headset with high ratings for sound and comfort...if you don't mind dealing with the dock and the high price point. Read Next: The Latest Gaming Headset Review

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

TP-Link Archer AC1900 Router Review Roundup

The TP-Link Archer AC1900 is a smaller router (one of our top picks: that you can find for only $110, lower than many other routers with a combined speed up to 1.9GPps. But do people like this small router, especially when it comes to more demanding router management? Let's find out!

TP-Link Archer AC1900 Router Features

In addition to the 1.9GBps combined speeds, this router includes beamforming for directing signals, a 1GHz processor, and USB ports (both 3.0 and 2.0) for connections. It offers dual band device managmeent, and comes with 4 Gigabit Ethernot ports. Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Fast for its size
  • Relatively affordable
  • Tough to position in some locations
  • Some bugs and failures noted in early models

PC World

PC World found this TP-Link model to be a reliable choice for those who hate dropped signals. However, they did notice a few quirks, too. The model seemed to be able to handle large file transfers with ease, and indeed was particularly fast for its cost. But the router then struggled with small file transfers, which seems a little strange. The review also found that the parental controls didn't work, although this could be due to a temporary bug.
"Guess what, though: it’s still very good value for money. It’s one of the many AC1900-rated dual-band routers that are currently on the Australian market, and this means that it can do 802.11ac at 1300Mbps, and 802.11n at up to 600Mbps. It has three external antennas that are removable, and they support the good stuff we’ve heard about from other high-end routers, such as Beamforming, where the signal can be directed to a particular device’s path, rather than going all over the place."

Trusted Reviews

Trusted Reviews liked the usability of the model, but found it a little hard to set up and manage, especially with only one USB 3.0 port. Tests found that speeds were reliable and competitive, but that other models did a better job over short distances (if your router is right next to your computer or console, for example).
"Elegant it may be but it’s not necessarily the most practical. The stand means you can’t lay the router flat or mount it on a wall. Moreover it isn’t sure footed enough and will fairly easily tip over. For most households these will all prove to be fairly minor points as once installed you’ll leave the router well alone, but its tendency to topple over definitely proved a little frustrating during testing. Otherwise it’s a clean bill of health as the three aerials are removable, yet sturdy, and are easy to position. The lights on the front for indicating power, Wi-Fi connection, Internet connection and the like are all easy to see and tell apart."

Amazon Users

Amazon users were doubtful of the small size, but found that the reach and speed tended to impress them, and that this TP-Link made an admirable alternative to more costly models that may be out of reach for some buyers. However, early versions of this router did seem to have a higher fail rate, so it's important to get the latest model.
"After two weeks of testing it, I have four words: it just works -- period. The signal is strong and punches through the lathe-and-plaster walls of my nearly 100 year old house. Its signal is considerably stronger than the WRT1900ACS that I had (which cost almost three times what this one did), and rivaled the signal strength of the $400 ASUS. It doesn't drop connections, doesn't reboot itself, and delivers a strong and steady stream of data to all devices, wired and wireless. Only one word of warning; you need to make sure the Archer C7 that you purchase is NOT a first version. Everyone on the web has reported that TP-LINK badly botched the V1, especially for Macintosh/Apple devices (which is most of my house); most of those should be out of circulation or in landfills by now. The one I bought from Amazon was a V2, and it works perfectly with all of my Apple and non-Apple devices."

Bottom Line

A powerful router for its size, the TP-Link is a little difficult to position but makes a great alternative for more expensive routers if you are on a strict budget. Read More Router Reviews

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