Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Home Theatre Seating – Octane Contour HR (Review)

Friday, September 14th, 2018

It’s been a while (apparently 7.5 years) since I’ve written something about home theater here. To be honest, not a lot has changed in my setup. I’ve moved from having satellite TV and watching (buying) lots of DVDs to primarily streaming content – Netflix or Amazon Prime. We still enjoy the occasional Blu-ray, but the quality of streaming is good enough and the convenience factor is high. I think there is also a social aspect to keeping up with what your friends are watching as well.

There are many many options out there for seating. We’ve had two rows of couches from the start, but while couches are comfortable if you want to stretch out you either end up with some sort of foot stool – or you’re lying sideways. Honestly couches are a great solution, but they don’t have that fancy feel to them. Recliners are fancy. Many (all?) of the movie theaters today in our area have fairly nice recliners now.

This got us looking at recliners. Ideally we’d go for Canadian made, but after searching around buying local drives the price up to double or more (and the quality). The couch we had in the front row was really showing it’s age and needed replacing. Specifications I was looking for: leather with power reclining, Jenn also wanted to make sure they looked ok because quite honestly many options are fairly ugly.

With leather there is a lot of variation. You want to avoid any of the gel or bonded leather, these tend to be in the very low end of the market and simply won’t last or feel all that great long term. Sadly, leather appears to be completely unregulated and ‘top grain’ leather has a huge range as well. The other gotcha here is that the selection is nearly 100% online (at least in the price range we were looking at).

This is what we ended up getting:

BestBuy had a fairly good sale on, and they seemed to have real leather. When you go digging there are not very many reviews of these, and the result vary quite a bit. You can find Octane Seating – the company that makes these (in China). If you dig around, you find out that Octane allows for orders with custom fabric, and they have quite a range of grades they support as well. I think this explains why there is such a variety of reviews for products that are described similarly.

I think we bought a day before the sale ended. While I was waiting for the delivery, I couldn’t help but check the website – and I wasn’t very surprised to see this.

Ok, so the 3 day sale didn’t really end after 3 days, it was extended. Maybe they are trying to drain stock or something.

Yeah, at this point it’s starting to get a little bit silly. It’s the sale that goes on forever. I was wrong, on the 17th it returned to normal full price.

But… other models were now on sale. It seems there is always a sale for entertainment furniture, in fact – while I was writing the post they were back on sale for the same discount.

We’ve had them a few weeks and have really enjoyed them. Going for the power recliner was absolutely the right choice, it was worth the price increase for that. The Octane Contour HR have motorized headrests which I would recommend, as a feature it seems like a gimmick, but it is really useful (and comfortable).

The leather is not as nice as the love seat we bought a couple of years ago for basically twice the price. That said, the product that we received felt like it was worth the sale price. I wouldn’t pay the full price for these, or at least not what BestBuy is asking as full price. While these exact chairs may not be on sale, there seems to always be some of the models on sale. I’d also consider CostCo as another source.

The motors are audible, but quiet enough that it’s not too intrusive if you adjust while watching. I’m basically 6′ tall, and I fit but I suspect a taller person may not be as comfortable.

Oddities. The two seat pair, ships in 4 parts. Both back rests come off (and are easy for 2 people to put back on). You get 1 full chair (two arms) and 1 with a single arm. You simply place them together on the floor – and the weight keeps them in place. I expecting there to be some sort of locking / connection mechanism but no, it’s just placement.

Overall very happy with the purchase, already thinking about converting the 2nd row of seating to recliners too.

Pros:

  • Power recline and power headrest
  • Much more comfortable than the worn out couch they replaced
  • Fancy looking, premium seating at home

Cons:

  • Seats are not physically attached
  • Kids play with the controls
  • Leather quality is ‘ok’ and may vary from vendor to vendor

Footnote: We initially tried to buy a set of seats that EastPorters carries, but was sold / shipped by Staples. The ordering process seemed to go off the rails, so a week later we assumed they had just cancelled the order. Weeks later, a shipping company calls to arrange drop off of our assumed cancelled order. They ended up leaving seats on the front step with no signature. They did come get the unwanted delivery and we eventually got a 100% refund, but only after chasing them a bit. I wouldn’t recommend Staples for this type of purchase

Review: Seacans PLA filament

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

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My printrbot simple shipped with 1lb of black PLA filament. This was great to get started, and it’s amazing how many prints I was able to do with so little plastic. I’ve still got probably 1/2 of the original black left, but I really wanted to do other colors.

I’d seen people coloring their filament using sharpies, and lately it seems that there are some very simple ways to do this with good success. I’ll probably try this next time I want to get some more colors and just buy a 1kg spool of natural PLA.

I had decided I wanted white, clear, and maybe one color (purple?). This sent me down the path of looking at the various places I could order from and trying to justify the shipping costs on top of the $20-$40 price per kg. Worse still, the printrbot store was actually out of stock on all but black when I had the burning desire to buy more filament.

Then I came across seacans.com – really nothing stood out about this vendor over others with the exception that they offered a 2kg rainbow pack for the price of 2kg of filament. Looking at the site today it seems they no longer carry this useful sampler of 8 colors, but they still have very good prices.

There are many options for filament – but my experience with seacans.com was positive. I would use them again.

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The shipment came double boxed. Each spool of filament was bagged in plastic with a desiccant pack. I’ve done quite a bit of printing with the new colors, and in general it’s been successful.

Measuring the thickness of the filament is interesting. The black that shipped with my Printrbot is 1.78mm. The rainbow pack from seacans.com varies across the colors: purple 1.72mm, orange 1.73mm, yellow 1.64mm, green 1.69mm, black 1.76mm, blue 1.69mm, red 1.70mm, and white 1.68mm. It is possible the size varies more across the length of the material. Since the Printrbot filament is not on a spool, I can easily test multiple locations over the entire length and it seems to be pretty consistent at 1.78mm.

With my prints – I haven’t noticed any big variations on the quality of the prints due to the thickness differences. With a 5% size difference you’d think it might show up more in the prints.

Initially I did have some trouble with the extruder gear grinding the filament down and failing to feed. I solved this with a fan (more on that in a future post). I’m not sure this can be simply attributed to the ‘cheap’ filament, but overall heat of the room (summer vs. winter) and feeding from a spool (more drag on the material).

If you can find a ‘rainbow’ pack, it’s worth a 30% premium over single color spools. I’ve had a lot of fun with the 7 new colors (I had black before). I also would suggest that cheap filament, while it may have some quality variation on size – is just fine for the hobby printer folks like myself.

Goodbye NCF – Hello Teksavvy

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License photo by  cesarastudillo

I’d been with NCF as my internet provider for a long time, I’d even written up a review of the service. I still think it’s a good organization to support, but I can no longer recommend it as a good ISP to use. My recent experiences with them have led me to believe they do not have the technical skills available to assist their customers effectively, and they repeatedly failed to call me back as promised.

I had decided on Teksavvy based on success my friends have had, their overall reputation and my interactions with their sales and support staff answering my questions. I’m still on a DSL line, but now using 15/1 which is the fastest available to my home at the moment. I would have stayed with NCF but the upgrade cost from 6MB to the 15/1 speed was going to cost me $89.95 [this has recently changed to a $49.95] whereas the admin cost at Teksavvy was $50. I had picked April 21st as my switch-over date and set this up with the two providers.

This is when the disaster happened. We were over one week without internet service at home. Not fun. The big bad guy here is Bell, but it was handled very poorly by NCF staff.

The long story: I sent in the cancellation to NCF on March 31st. Set the date as Apr 21st. They have a form you submit to do this – however there is no email / indication that the form worked or was waiting to be processed. 24hrs later I called in to check if it was in queue, someone at the NCF office was able to tell me that it was indeed received.

I then signed up for Teksavvy starting as of the 21st.

Monday April 7th just before noon our home internet was disabled. No more DSL signal. A call to the NCF office was frustrating, I was told that the order to Bell was done correctly and the 21st was the right date. They failed to take any effective action to resolve my problem.

Tuesday April 8th. More calls to NCF, sounds now like Bell processed the disconnect order early. My only recourse? Sign up again with NCF, pay the admin fee and wait 5 business days to be reconnected. WTF?! Deep breathing. Call Teksavvy see if they can expedite my sign up with them, frustratingly I still have to wait the 5 days as that’s a Bell delay. Internet turn on day scheduled for the 15th.

Thursday April 9th. Call into NCF, talk to someone sort of useful at the office who is able to tell me the history of this screw up at NCF and what’s happened with Bell. He’s reasonable and says that they’ll have a refund to my account discussed. Promised to call me back with an update – still no call to date [as of this posting].

Sunday April 13th. Yes, we’re still without home internet. Called at 4pm by a Bell technician who is doing the outside work to connect us to DSL. I tell him my sob story about being out and is it possible we might have service today? He calls me back about an hour later and says that the outside work is all done, line looks good to go, but he was unable to get the Bell office to connect us early.  We need to wait for the Tuesday install date.

Tuesday April 15th, 3am. Dog wakes me up for some reason. He wants to go sit on the deck outside and look at the moon. Grr. Well, I’m up anyways – power cycle the DSL modem. 3:30am we’re on the internet again. 15/1 speed, still connecting through NCF [more evidence this was entirely Bell messing this up]. In the morning I setup my login / password to Teksavvy and switch over to that service entirely.

As usual, at the start of using a new service I end up talking with Teksavvy support multiple times. It hasn’t all been perfect, but in general I’ve had lots of straight answers from the people there and it’s easy to get to real technical people.