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Motorola Droid Mini

My hands are small. Not just small for a man, but tiny in general. When shopping for gloves, I have to head straight for the children’s department at any store. Praise be to God that I don’t have to do manual labor for a living as I’m more apt to strike oil in my back yard than find a snug pair of work gloves.

So a few years ago when the smart phone industry decided to put their products on steroids, I became a bit distressed. I moved from a (quickly dying) HTC Droid Incredible to a fairly new Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx that some fool sold me on eBay for a song. Two years ago it was a top end device, and today it remains capable. But it was/is just so darned big! I like a device that I can use one-handed, and the Maxx wasn’t it. But I struggled on (First World problems, I know) until I found something more in my size.

Problem was the trend was super sizing phones, not down-sizing them (Galaxy Note? WTF?). Sure, for every Samsung Galaxy S, or HTC One, there was a Mini version. Sadly all of those Minis were stripped of all the cool things their big brothers had, and I’m not stupid enough to extend my contact on an already outdated device.

Someone from Motorola (now a part of Google) heard the pleas of myself and the rest of the small handed citizens of this round, blue ball in space and gave us a premium handset in a diminutive package. Enter the Motorola Droid Mini. Though never mentioned as such, it looks and feels like a follow-up to the fairly popular Droid RAZR M. It would be more accurately described as the runt brother of the Droid Ultra, Droid Ultra Maxx, and the phone everyone is talking about right now, the Moto X.

The only thing that differentiates any of these phones are battery, screen type, and pixel density. Cameras, chips, RAM, etc are all equal. The Motorola Droid Mini has a LCD screen versus the LED screens of the others, but offers the same resolution with a higher pixel density. The pixel density is even higher than what was found on the iPhone 5.

My favorite feature of the Droid Mini, aside from its size, is it’s ‘always on’ voice activation. Without even touching the phone, I can say ‘Okay Google Now’ and a command, and the Mini does it, all hands free. Neat stuff. ‘Active Notifications’ are pretty cool as well, allowing me to see what made my phone buzz without having to unlock things.

More goodies to be had as well, like 6 free months of Google Play Music. You can find the Droid Mini for as little as $49.99 if you shop around, and that is just a steal for a super speedy flagship phone. I highly recommend this device to anyone, not just those with baby hands like me. Easy ‘Yea!’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms

I really love fall season, and pumpkin spiced everything is one of my favorite parts about it. So when my fiance ordered some Pumpkin Spice M&Ms for me from Amazon I was uber excited.  I was expecting them to fill my mouth with pumpkin delight and have a little bit of spice to them.  I was wrong.  The M&Ms tasted nothing like pumpkin and very much like the traditional milk chocolate flavor they usually sport. There was a little bit of spice in the aftertaste but it is more akin to about an ounce of the heat you would find in Mexican chocolate.

But let’s give M&M some credit here. They did well with a few things. The M&Ms are about two or three times the size of a regular M&M which I really like.  You can really savor one without having to dump a handful in your mouth at once.  While I wouldn’t market them as “pumpkin spice” they still tasted great.  Even the color scheme was fall appropriate.

So what’s my consensus? I like the M&Ms but was sorrily let down by the lack of pumpkin flavoring.  So I’ll have to give you a “meh!” Sorry, M&Ms.

Official Site

-Kat Graham

Other M&M Reviews

Duck Dynasty Beard Booth

We’re tremendous Duck Dynasty fans in this house. When I saw that there was a free Duck Dynasty Beard Booth app recently released, I squealed like a little yuppie girl at a Justin The Beaver concert. I couldn’t install it on my phone fast enough (available on Android and iOS) and start playing around.

You can choose from four Robertson beards. Phil, Si, Jase, and of course, Willie. The application is very simple to use. Snap your picture, zoom in as to suit your tastes, then pick a beard. The beards can be manipulated to fit your face. I was kind of sad that I couldn’t get Phil’s (my favorite!) to match up on my mug very well, but it was fun trying. You may also choose a caption from a list of the show’s more common catch phrases, but that is entirely optional.

Obviously the Duck Dynasty Beard Booth app isn’t going to increase your productivity in any way, in fact it will probably do the opposite. It certainly is fun for what it is though! Made me ‘Happy, happy, happy!’ at least for a few minutes. Considering the price (free), I’m giving it a ‘Yea!’ If you try it out, share your photos in the comment section!

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

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M&M’s White Chocolate Candy Corn

Sorry for the delay, we’ve been facing some logistical issues in getting new products to review. Hopefully that is all behind us now! Today, we’re introducing M&M’s White Chocolate Candy Corn. In a previous review, I suggested that a white chocolate M&M would probably be pretty tasty, and as it turns out, great minds think alike. Better yet, in a crowd of Halloween themed items, White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M’s are unique and original, not just the same old product dyed orange, black, and shaped like a pumpkin.

Original? Yes. Good? I enjoyed them a great deal. Aside from the color of the candy pieces, the traditional white, yellow, and orange, I really don’t taste anything that resembles the flavor of candy corn. But whatever. The white chocolate inside those sweet crunchy candy shells is deliciously rich and creamy. I suppose that the dominant flavors present in real candy corns are butter and sugar, and those are also the main ingredients of white chocolate, but we’re just splitting hairs there.

Did I immediately think of candy corn when I bit in to the first handful? No. Do I love them regardless? Yea! Grab a bag while you can, I doubt these will be around long considering their seasonal nature. With any luck though, they’ll emerge later under a different name and color scheme. Yum!

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Other M&M Reviews

Coffee Thins: Espresso

Every time I go to our local convince store I see Coffee Thins–delicious looking chocolate thins flavored with coffee.  I never bothered to pick them up, I didn’t recognize them as a major brand and when I’m craving something sweet I usually go for Skittles or a Twix. I was all ready to check out when my total came to $4.56. Fail.  There is a $5 debit card minimum at my convenience store. So I grabbed a few of these Coffee Thins in a couple different flavors and rounded my total up just enough.  With my chocolate in bag I headed home to sample my goodies.

And boy was I happily surprised! I wasn’t expecting much from my off-brand coffee chocolates but as soon as I bit into the slightly melted and brilliantly smooth treat I was sold.  Coffee Thins are not for those who are only mildly dedicated to coffee.  The flavor is spectacular and definetly more on the coffee side than chocolate.  I would liken them to chocolate covered espresso beans but without the grainy texture. Yum!

I can’t say enough about Coffee Thins. They’re delicious, rich and decadent. Imagine all that from a convenience store sweet! “Yea!”

Official Site

-Kat Graham

Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce

I never thought that I would find another hot sauce that would be worthy of sharing shelf space with Frank’s, but I found one sitting atop the salsa bar at my favorite Mexican joint. I’ve been eating at this place for years, and never bothered to try it. Major, major fail on my part; Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce may be the best tasting condiment I’ve ever sampled.

Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce is not uncomfortably hot. No sweating, tears, or disgusting runny noses. That isn’t to say it is weak, there is no doubt that it will warm your palette. Unlike many other hot sauces, Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce isn’t hot just for the sake of being hot. It is easy to pick up the more subtle, sweeter notes present in the peppers Valentina is made from. This isn’t a typical vinegar-heavy sauce like the innumerable Louisiana-style sauces crowding the super-market shelves; Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce has a ton of character. Use it on any foods you would typically use hot sauce or barbecue sauce.

Finding Valentina may prove challenging, but you are all a creative bunch, I’m sure you can locate a bottle. Or a case. I highly doubt that you’ll be disappointed in your purchase. Big spicy ‘Yea!’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos

So, the name is deceiving. Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos are in fact not ice cream. Boo! There are in fact an ice cream flavored cookie that swaps the traditional vanilla cream filling for (in this case) a Berry Burst flavor.  The pink cream middles are speckled with darker pink dots to resemble blended strawberries in strawberry ice cream. The cookie part of the Oreo has remained untouched. And, well, that’s the best thing about these Oreos.

Ask the fiance and you’ll get a different opinion but I, personally did not enjoy Berry Burst Oreos.  They aren’t horrific but they certainly aren’t delectable.  The cream is tangy and leaves a tart aftertaste that clashes drastically with the sweetness of the cookie.  I ate one before this review to jog my memory of the flavors and the aftertaste is still lingering…and not in a good way.  The best way I can describe it would be a deep throat tartness mixed with a spoonful of sugar on the tongue.  Are there positives? Yes! If the tart and tangy is for you, you will certainly enjoy these cookies. And they do resemble ice cream in that they have a pungent fruit flavor.

Taking into consideration that I personally do not enjoy tangy flavors but still wanting to give an honest and fair review I’ll have to give Berry Burst Ice Cream Oreos a “Meh…” Sorry, Oreos!

Official Site

-Kat Graham

Ribbet – The Perfect Picnik Replacement

When Google purchased Picnik, shoe horned it into Google+, then closed the site down, I was crushed. I fancied myself as an amateur photographer and used Picnik to do post/editing. I used it to great success as well; winning several hundred dollars, and having one of my images featured on a MasterCard. I’ve looked for replacements since, and I’ve found usable alternatives, but nothing that was in Picnik’s league.

Last night I found Ribbet. It is Picnik in every way, name not withstanding. According to their official blog “We have no affiliation with Picnik or Google and were not the developers on the original site. We are a completely independent software company who built on the Picnik platform which was released by Google under an open source license.” That is more than good enough for me, and I’m thrilled that development will continue on this simple to use, but incredibly powerful photo editing software.

Ribbet is going to get me back in to taking photos again. Without a degree in digital design, a $1,000 camera, and the hundreds of dollars it takes to buy Photoshop and it’s upgrades, I was priced out of the hobby. Ribbet runs in a web browser for FREE, and can take a decent camera phone picture and turn it into something beautiful. That earns Ribbet an enthusiastic ‘Yea!’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights found their way into my cart on my latest trip to Winn-Dixie. I love anything pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, seeds, lattes–you name it. So needless to say when I found these on the Little Debbie display I figured they were worth a shot. Shaped like jack-o-lanterns and with the nose and mouth cutouts filled with pumpkin gel/cream like substance. That sounds disgusting, I know, but it’s actually quite delicious.

One thing that I really like about Little Debbie Snacks is that they aren’t lightweights when it comes to the snack category. Each bite fills your mouth entirely and is a soft, chewy delight.  They taste more like the pumpkin spice package that you can by around Thanksgiving than actual pumpkin.  Am I complaining? Heck, no! My mum is a bit of a health freak so when I was growing up Little Debbie snacks never made it into my house so eating them now they have the flavors of forbidden fruit which makes them extra yummy.

My quasi-rebellious consumption of Little Debbie Snacks has left me sampling many delicious flavors but these may take the cake (pun intended). But here’s the real question: do they match up to other pumpkin holiday samplings? You won’t see them behind the glass cases of Starbucks anytime soon but for something you can buy on Amazon.com for $3, you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. “Yea!”

Official Site

-Kat Graham

 

Samsung Chromebook

My old trustworthy HP G62 has been running a bit warm lately, so I began looking for its replacement. Being on a very limited budget for the forseeable future, as I’m sure many of you are, I was looking for a deal. I found one. As part of an eBay Deal of the Day promotion, I saw the Samsung Chromebook for around $160 (refurbished from Best Buy’s eBay store). I’ve kept an eye on the capabilities of these machines for quite a while, and it seemed to fit my needs, so I took a chance and hit the Buy It Now button.

First impression was that this was a solid little machine. The screen is matte so while it isn’t ‘light up the room bright,’ the lack of glare makes up for it. I have used it for hours on end with little to no eye-strain. I thought that reading on the 11 inch screen might have been an issue, but it isn’t. Even if it were, font size can easily be adjusted.

The Samsung Chromebook island style keyboard is a dream to type on, and the multi-touch capable touch pad mouse has given me no trouble whatsoever. It comes with a small but lightning fast 16gb solid state hard drive, a power sipping ARM processor, and 2gb of RAM. You can take advantage of the USB ports (2.0 and 3.0) to expand your storage, or simply insert a high-capacity memory card.

The Chrome OS is very simple to dive in to, and since I used Google’s Chrome browser on my windows machine, all of my bookmarks were already there waiting for me the first time I signed on. That was very cool and unexpected. Setup was so simple a monkey could do it.

So what’s the catch? Well, for the time being you must have a constant internet connection to be very productive. The Samsung Chromebook runs on web apps, and the number of apps that will run offline is very limited. The good news is that the number of offline apps seem to be growing at a pretty good rate. That, and in today’s world we’re rarely out of wifi range, so the immense number of quality web apps will leave you wanting for nothing from your Windows or Mac machine.

If you’re in the market for a maintenance free, light weight, fast, attractive, affordable and easy to use notebook, I would definitely recommend taking a look at the Samsung Chromebook. If you buy it new, it’s $249, and worth every penny. If you run across a deal like I did, you would be crazy not to pick one up. Easy ‘Yea!’

Official Site

-Jeremy Hobbs