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If you’re frustrated searching through a sea of channels you don’t subscribe to, we have a solution for you.
You’re probably used to the default “All Channel” listing that comes up whenever you press the Guide button.
But if you’re like many of us, being presented with hundreds of options, many of which we don’t actually have, can be frustrating and overwhelming.
Now, here’s your fast and easy solution to end this frustration permanently.
Follow the instructions below and once completed, every time you hit the Guide button, only the channels you actually have in your specific package will be displayed from now on.
Here are the steps to make it happen:
1. Press the Menu button on your Fios remote.
2. Scroll up to Settings and select it.
3. Select System
4. Scroll right and down to Television.
5. Scroll Right and Down to Last Viewed Guide State.” This is defaulted to Disable. Highlight and select “Enable” so it is checked.
6. Press the “Exit” button on your remote to leave the Menu/Settings area completely.
7. Now Press the GUIDE button on the remote. Then press the “Options” button on the remote.
8. Scroll down to “Subscribed Channels” and press your center “Select” button to say OK.
Now. look at the bottom of the right menu column where it says Mode: It should say “Subscribed Channels” now and it is locked in for future Guide selections.
Let’s tour the change:
Press Exit on your remote.
Press your Guide button.
There are two different views you can choose from now.
The first Guide you’ll see will display a large viewer of the channel you’re currently on, and a smaller display of the channels you’re currently “Subscribed” to down the right side. Scroll down the right side to find and select the program you want, more like the regular guide.
Press the Guide button a Second time, you’ll get a new display that has a smaller viewer on the left and the icons for all the channels you have in your package displayed across the top to scroll across, (using left/right arrows on remote).
Center screen is the current channel you have selected to view, with all the programs beneath it that you can scroll Down through, starting from the time slot you entered the Guide and onward from there.
Pick the view you like best and explore all the great stuff you already pay for!
Because you enabled the system to retain your “Subscribed Channels,” for your Guide, vs the “All Channels” default, each time you press the Guide button going forward, your Guide will show you only the channels you actually have access to, without any frustration or guesswork.
Part of the GSTW series “Behind The Curtain™ to help you live better.
From our Readers:“Paul! I’ve been looking for a replacement teakettle for several months now. I never thought finding a good quality teakettle would be so hard, but it is!
Almost every review I read has complaints about all kinds of issues. Some rust, others the handle gets hot, ones that are supposed to whistle don’t. Please help!
All I want is a good looking, well made teakettle that holds enough water so several of us can share some tea. Thanks.” GR PG:“GR, it does seem incredible that it’s hard to find a well designed teakettle, considering they’ve been around for several hundred years.
But since the teakettle also has a second role as “Kitchen Art,” creative design has often overridden human design.
However, we found a teakettle that solves nearly all the engineering issues and has a simple, elegant style that beautifully integrates its superior human design.
It should make tea time a simple pleasure for a long time. Let’s take a look…..”
First, Here’s What Our Research Found a Great Teakettle Should Have:
*2 qt. size to make sharing a cup of tea with friends easy, but not make a full kettle too heavy
*Single-piece Body. (no crimped, two piece bottoms or material bonding)
* Non-Rusting Materials and no welded spouts (welds are a common place for rust)
* A Clear Whistle (to keep us from ruining it)
* Stay Cool Handle, even at a full whistle boil
* Safe, Easy Open Spout Lid, with its opening lever away from the spout, where it’s cool
* No Boiling Surge spout design (no boiling water leaping from the spout as you pour)
* Balanced and Easy to Pour (with a human engineered handle/weight balanced design)
* Tight Lid Seal (so steam doesn’t leak up towards your hand or heat up the handle)
* Easy Faucet Fill Access (wide fill opening and a handle that doesn’t interfere with filling)
* Attractive Design (because it usually lives on your stove 24/7)
* At Least a 2 Year Warranty (demonstrating they stand behind what they sell)
We found the Calphalon Stainless Steel Teakettle blended the
Best Balance of Benefits, Performance and Human Design
into a simple, attractive, comfortable to use teakettle.
–It’s 2 qt. capacity provides plenty of water for up to eight (8) ounce cups, without becoming too heavy to manage.
-The single extrusion body shape keeps the weight of shifting water well balanced. The beautifully integrated, spring loaded spout cap /whistle clearly let’s you know when its ready and pouring is safe and controlable.
–The high arched, very heat resistant handle design is safe and comfortable. It has an easy to remove (see my technique photo below) but tight fitting kettle lid and wide fill opening to make faucet filling and cleaning easy.
–It’s Stainless Steel, non-welded design should provide years of rust free service and good looks with periodic polishing using a quality stainless steel cleaner. (two of our polish recommendations are below)
-In the three+ months of our testing, the Calphalon Stainless Steel Teakettle has proven to be exceptionally well human engineered, easy to use and fits attractively into a variety of kitchens.
The Inside Story:
A teakettle is a unique item to humans. (that would be us, hopefully)
More than most items in our home, it’s use and presence often connects us to feelings of comfort and harmony.
That’s probably why the Visual Design has very often taken priority over the Practical Experience of using it.
When GR asked us to help them find a teakettle that incorporated both, we started with a Human Design focus and worked our way forward to the also highly important asthetics.
Our goal was to find a beautifully human engineered teakettle that was also beautiful to the eye and could fit into a wide variety of kitchen decors.
has a great blend of the qualities a great teakettle should have.
But, based upon our research, we came to appreciate how rare that is.
Calphalon apparently also felt that form didn’t necessarily follow function in the teakettle world.
During our research we found that they decided to leave the teakettle market completely for about a year.
During that time they tasked their design/engineering department to start from scratch and create a design that not only solved the human design issues most teakettles have, but would also blend attractively into most kitchens.
Based upon the positive and responsive experience I had reaching their customer service (in a reasonable time-under 2 mins.) and seperate conversations with different, but knowledgeable customer service personnel, their customer focus and desire to create quality products appears to be quite cultural.
In fact, the new kettle design originally used a black plastic ring around the lift ring of the whistle. To ensure heat would not break down the plastic ring over time, they upgraded the lift ring to also be stainless steel. All current models now have this change.
We highly value a manufacturer that identifies a potential issue and makes a running change. Cudos to Calphalon. I can tell you, having looked at thousands of products over the years, most don’t unless required to.
But, let’s look deeper into a few key features
that helped qualify the Calphalon Stainless Steel Teakettle as
A GreatStuffThatWorks Approved product.
Just Put Your Lips Together and Whistle…….
* First, Let’s start with why a teakettle should whistle:
->Human Beings Forget Stuff.
The number one killer of teakettles in America is…… boiling it dry.
If you love your teakettle, warping it intoavant- garde art can feel like you just killed your favorite plant.
So, to avoid future heartbreak you need a good, strong whistle to blow when the water reaches full boil.
The Calphalon Stainless Steel teakettledoes this reliably and with a high pitched, but not un-pleasant, whistle easily heard from another room.
No more “Oh, sh_t” moments, while running to it’s rescue.
Once your water is ready, it needs to get into the cup safely.
No Boiling Surge
Ever attempt to pour your freshly boiled water and have it leap over the cup onto the counter?
It’s both messy and a scalding danger.
The spout design on many teakettles actually increases this problem due to its length and the narrowing taper of the spout.
The Calphalon teakettlespout was designed with a short, wide, circular spout that when heated properly (see my note about flame height on Gas Stoves) eliminates the surging issue, even when pouring water at full boil. Yes, we tested this multiple times with a properly full (read “not over the Max” mark) kettle at full whistle boil.
To also help keep you safe, the whistle cap is easily opened by a spring actuated, beautifully integrated, lever at the top of it’s handle arc. Click On The Video Below To See It In Action!
Stay Cool Handle
Keeping the handle cool requires several elements to be addressed by the design and one by you.
* The handle should be made of a strong, very low heat conducting materal.
Why should you have to reach for a potholder or towel just to pour your water or open the lid without burning yourself?
The “Philadelphia Arch” Calphalon handle uses a resin that has a very low ability to absorb heat and remains strong. The same arched design and material is used on the kettle Lid Handle, keeping your fingers further away from hot metal.
Easy To Fill
This arched lid design also makes removing the kettle lid easy.
Here’s my tip to do it: Grip the kettle handle at the top of the arch, then hook the lid handle with your middle finger and pull up. Snap!
The tight fitting lid pops right off without you touching the hot metal. —->
As soon as the lid is cool, just press the lid back in place with the “arches” of the lid and kettle aligned for the next time. (nice).
Calphalon design engineers also made it easy to fill the pot using most faucets.
The High Arch handle and wide opening on the kettle allow you to slide most faucets under the handle to fill it.
It also makes it easier to clean on the inside, if your water is high in minerals.
There is a Max Fill line embossed into the upper side of the stainless steel pot.
But unless you’re Superman,you likely can’t see through stainless steel to see it. Especially from the inside, where you need to see it as you fill. (no design is perfect).
Overfilling can cause boiling water to overflow onto the stove or surge from even a properly designed spoutand we don’t want that.
But, I found an easy way to know when you’re at the Max mark, without X-Ray vison.
While filling the pot, simply hook your index finger at 90 degrees over the rim at the second joint (the one just before your knuckle or if you have short fingers, at the knuckle bend). When the water rises to touch the tip of your finger, you’re done. Close enough and simple.
The lid must seal tightly.
The lid should keep all but a small amount of steam (none are 100%) from leakingdirectly upinto the handle above.
This seal is also important to assure the whistle will actually sing.
If the kettle lid allows much steam to leak from the lid area, there won’t be enough pressure to cause the whistle to blow (a complaint our User Experience research found was not uncommon).
The Calphalon Stainless Steel teakettle lidseals with a tight snap, allows very little steam to leak towards the handle and keeps your mini-steam engine fully powering the whistle, once it reaches full boil.
Just a note, the whistle will only blow when the water has achieved a full, turbulent boil. Our research found some users expected the whistle to blow at the point the water begins to churn within the pot, but adequate steam pressure is only achieved once a full boil has been rolling for a minute or so.
In our tests it takes about 5-7 minutes (depending upon the BTU output of your burners) to whistle the kettle at the full 2 quart capacity. Less time, of course, with less water inside.
The Size of the Burner Matters
And the type of stove (Gas or Electric) you have will also effect the heat transferred to the handle.
The reason most stove tops are designed with different sized burners is to allow you to concentrate their heat directly into the bottom of the kitchenware you place on top.
We found many people simply pick whatever burner is convenient, crank the heat to Hi and walk away. Unfortunately this is very “Un-cool”.
The more the burner is oversized to the kettle bottom (or other kitchenware) the more heat is sent up the outsides and yep, into the handle.
So, the best solution for preventing the handle from being bathed in heat, is to put the kettle on the burner best matching the size of the bottom of the kettle. Err towards smaller, not larger.
If all your burners are the same size, more common on Gas stoves, adjust the flame level to stay within the flat bottom of the kettle. Cranking it further can do three things on Gas Stoves: 1.) It just wastes fuel, sending heat into the room and not into the water you are trying to boil. 2.) When the flames lick out and up the sides of the kettle, it will discolor the stainless steel finish.
3.) VERY IMPORTANT FOR GAS STOVES: When the flames lick out and up the sides of the kettle, it can also super heat the upper side of the kettle, heat the handle and can Cause The Water To Potentially Surge From The Spout, creating a spill hazard. Keep the flames beneath the pot and you’ll probably never have this issue when using a Gas stove. It never evidenced when using an Electric stove.
Over time, most stainless steel will develop a more golden tone as the metal tempers.
Periodic cleaning with a quality stainless steel cleaner (I list two at the end we found work well) will help keep your stainless steel kettle shiny and silver much longer. But the time in between cleanings can be greatly reduced by keeping the flames where they belong….. under the kettle.
And last but not least,if something does become defective,your teakettle should have a solid warranty.
Like most Calphalon products, this one has a Lifetimewarranty. (nice)
The link to the Calphalon Warranty Agreement is in my FYI-2.
So, if you’ve been searching for a great teakettle,
FYI-1: Here are three Stainless Steel Cleaning Products our consumer experience research and testing found are superior at polishing stainless steel (and some other metal surfaces).
Some refrigerators, stoves and grills cheat and use a very thin coating of stainless or sometimes silver plating over tin or other metal, often with an acrylic coating on top.
Using stainless steel cleaner on those can dull or erode the acrylic coating, so just use soap and water on those to be safe. If the acrylic coating is removed, the non-stainless metal underneath will begin to rust.
For your genuine Stainless Steel appliances,
Twinkle, Zep and Barkeeper’s Friend are proven leaders.
(I like Barkeeper’s Friend the best and use it myself on our Calphalon Tea Kettle, our glass top stove, stainless steel sink and more.)
Always read read the label for the recommended uses and safe applications.
Twinkle and Zep are both sprays and do a great job of removing streaks, fingerprints and bringing back the like new shine quickly. The coating they leave also helps prevent the re-occurrence of finger prints, retaining the shine longer.
Spray on, work it in a bit with a cloth and wipe off the residue. That’s about it.
Twinkle is a very well liked product and is both effective and easy to use.
Zep is also very effective, but has a strong odor, so ventilate the area when using it.
Barkeeper’s Friend is a long term favorite (over 100 years and counting) and is a great value. It contains Oxalic Acid, so read what surfaces it is safe to use on, mix the power with water (the preferred version of the product) into a paste to prevent scratching and Always rinse the surface after application, to avoid any remaining residue damaging the surface by prolonged contact.
This product also has a variety of other versatile uses, so check the label for what you can and should not use it on and you’ll have great results. If you have a Glass Top Stove, it works great to remove burned on food and spills.
There are the three most effective stainless steel cleaners, according to our research.
From Our Subscribers: “Paul, I replaced an old gas can recently. The new government regs make using this new one so clumsy I usually end up spilling gas on my hot motors, floor or clothes, especially when the can is full. It also pours so slowly you get tired holding the 15 lbs (2.5 gal) of fuel in the air for so long. Does anybody make a fuel can that actually works well anymore?” Chris G.
PG: “Chris, you’re experiencing what many people have found over the last few years since the new safety and EPA regulations for gas cans came into place. Awkward spout locks, clumsy telescoping flow controls and air intakes inside the pour spout that really extend filling time, have made most new gas cans simply frustrating to use.
There are only a few manufactures that make these cans. But our research found one company that has developed an excellent, patented design, that exceeds all the government regulations, and works great!
Here’s the scoop….”
The Short Story:
*Push Button Flow Control * Fuel Level View Stripes Front and Back(1.25 & 2.5 gal. cans) * Automatic Flow Stop In Nozzle * Unique, Large Neck Can Filler Opening * Underside Hand Grip For Better Control (1.25 & 2.5 gal. cans, 2 handles on 5 gal.) * Wide, Stable Design * Thick Wall Construction For Increased Safety and Durability * Professional Grade Quality * Made in the USA since 1989 * 3 Year Warranty
The Inside Story:
The fact is, most of us think very little about what gas can we have…….until we go to use it.
If you have a very old gas can, made of plastic or metal, it will likely have an air vent located at the back of the can. To pour gas you simply needed to uncap the spout (if the cap hadn’t been lost), open the vent and pour away. This system allowed you to often pour up to 5+ gallons per minute. Fast and easy.
But there were also some serious safety and environmental issues with that design:
1.)Gas fumes, much more than the gas itself, are very volatile. An open vent on a gas can is constantly leaking these potentially explosive fumes into the air surrounding the can. A spark, cigarette, or open flame of any kind can cause the fumes to suddenly ignite, especially in a closed area like a garage, basement or shed.
2.)These same open can fumes continually vent hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, which becomes significant when you consider the many thousands of unsealed gas cans across the nation (and the world) contributing damage to both our air quality and the protective layer between us and the sun.
3.)A dropped or knocked over can could quickly spill gas across the floor, ground or on people, creating a serious safety and clean up hazard.
4.)Children could easily cause gas to flow from the can or be exposed to gas fumes, with potentially harmful consequences.
So, a few years ago the EPA instituted national
guidelinesto require all gascans to conform to both safety and environmental minimum standards.
Unfortunately, this also resulted in most “Safe” gas can designs having the following characteristics:
1.)Clumsy and awkward to control and hold.
2.)The Flow Control can be difficult to regulate, especially when filling smaller tanks, like on gas powered leaf blowers, string trimmers, etc.
3.)The gallons per minute flow is now often in the range of 1.4 gallons per minute (gpm), causing you to hold a heavy can in the air (15 lbs for 2.5 gals, 30 lbs for 5 gals.) for significantly longer times.
4.)In our tests, they often created more “spill opportunities” due to the awkward flow activation methods and tank handling required to make them work.
Simply put, a pain in the A.
The three primary designs now being used, with minor variations by manufacture, are: (my terms)
Lever Flow Release: This design has a wide lever attached to the spout with a sliding safety release that must move forward to release the lever that allows the gas to flow. If you stop the flow for a moment, you need to re-release the safety slider, and re-press the lever to restart the flow. This makes bringing a tank up to full without spilling very awkward.
Telescopic Flow Release: This design uses a telescoping, spring loaded pour spout. To open the flow you usually need to turn a safety release on the spout, then hook a notch on the spout onto the rim of the gas tank you’re filling and push forward on the can, shifting the weight forward to compress the spout and open the flow.
Another version of this telescopic design also uses a hook on the spout to push against, but the flow stopper protrudes from the end of the spout when compressed.
Although this design does have an advantage of automatically stopping the flow when the tip becomes immersed below the gas level during a fill, holding the notch in position against the tank rim without slipping off (which immediately closes the flow stopper) is clumsy and the spout frequently gasps for air.
In our tests it also resulted in gas spilling onto the machine (and our shoes) when we were attempting to hook the notch on the rim or when it slipped off suddenly as the gas in the can shifted its weight. Easy to do especially when you’re holding the can in freezing weather. This was particularly true when the gas can was full.
Button Flow Control: This patented design, used by only one company, No-Spill, did not have to be changed from its basic design when the new regulations arrived, as they had already solved the fume and safety issues.
This system uses a Button Activated flow control that allows precise filling of even small tanks with no spilling of fuel or fumes.
Here’s the reason the “No-Spill” gas can qualified as
a GreatStuffThatWorks product:
1.)The nozzle design allows you to precisely control the flow of fuel, no matter how large or small the tank you need to fill is. And how full the can is has no effect on your control of the flow.
2.)It has an automatic flow stop. It allows you to place the fill nozzle into a tank you can’t see into, press the fill button and the flow will automatically stop when the tank is full. As soon as it stops, just release the flow button and you……don’t spill. (what a concept.)
3.)You can easily, precisely top off a mower, generator, or trimmer sized tank with great control.
4.)The cans have a wide, clear view strip on both ends of the the 2.5 and 1.25 gal. cans, so you can always see at a glance how much fuel is left.(not yet on the 5 gal.)
5.) There is an underside hand grip notch to help make pouring control more stable.
6.)They are made from a thicker, professional grade, molded plastic that is highly resistant to splitting, bursting (if dropped) or punctures when used at home or on the work site.
7.)It has a wide mouth fill opening to make refilling it at the gas station safer.
The larger diameter opening makes it easier to see when the can is getting full. That in conjunction with the front and rear view strips showing you the level as you fill, makes refilling the can clean and spill free.
This also means you’re not putting a “spilled-on” gas can into your car for the ride home. Coupled with the self-sealing vent system, it should make chauffeuring your gas can around odor-free.
The No-Spill can is also designed to prevent a spill if it falls over. (just in case you didn’t tie it down well enough for the ride.)
8.)Their nozzle design includes a mesh screen at the rear of the fuel nozzle to prevent bugs or other air born debris from getting back up the spout and into your clean fuel.
9.)The Tank Cap design prevents over-tightening that could permanently distort the sealing “O”ring.
“O” rings can be permanently deformed if they are compressed more than 40%. No-Spill engineered the closure cap to never allow more than 30% compression, even if the cap is fully cranked down. (Not necessary to create a good seal.) In our tests, 4-5 clicks on the cap ratchet were plenty to keep the cap tight and sealed.
10.)The No-Spill can has a flow rate of up to 2.9 gallons per minute. Not as fast as the old style cans, but it is top of the class in fast compared to other EPA conforming designs. (around 1.4-1.5 gpm). This means less time holding a heavy gas can in the air.
If you need a longer reach, there is also an extension nozzle available.
Because the on-board No-Spill nozzle was designed to fill a wide variety of motorized, off road tools, (the primary market for small to medium sized gas cans), they make a 6″ (accessory) extension nozzle that quickly attaches to the existing nozzle when you need to fill an automobile or other on-road vehicle.
The extension will hold the filler door open inside the automobile’s gas tank, uses a high quality, transparent, fuel rated hose that won’t be eaten by gas (like many plastic hoses) and allows you to see the flow.
If you push the extension tip at least 2″ inside the car’s tank,the auto-stop feature of the No-Spill can still operate and stop the flow automatically. However, when using the extension nozzle, the flow rate will drop to around 1.5 gpm because the extended tube can’t pull air in as quickly.
Important Note:When the fuel does automatically stop, Remember that you need to release the flow button and watch the last ~2 oz. of fuel still in the extension hose drain into the tankBefore you remove the hose from the tank! (unless you like a little petro spit shine on your shoes).
To Remove the Extension Hose From the Nozzle, don’t try to pull it off. It will just get tighter. (A little like the Mexican fingercuffs trick.) You want to push it off from the back edge of the hose, where it wraps around the nozzle.
All new gas cans are now designed to be “child resistant,”which is good, But……“Child Resistant” design often means “not easy to use.”
The No-Spill can has managed to integrate these safety measures much better than most.
The No-Spill nozzle incorporates a push button design with side guards to prevent accidental pressing of the flow button (green).
And a squeeze position that requires a more adult sized hand to operate.
You put two fingers around the front edge,
And push with your thumb. Flow On.
Release, Flow Off.
The tank cap has a ratchet that requires firm pressure on the edges to move it away from the ratchet post and allow unscrewing.
Here’s the two thumb push / rotate technique we found that should allow any adult sized hand to open it without too much trouble. Once you twist past the ratchet notches, the cap will simply unscrew the rest of the way.
In the end, most of us buy a gas can and then keep it for years.
Heck, I still have a plastic gas can I bought 20+ years ago. (You saw the picture at the beginning of this review. I know, it’s not pretty.)
But because I now have tools that require Regular gas, some Mixed gas (fuel with oil added) or just hold more gas than the cans I had, I bought others.
All the gas cans I’ve bought in the last few years (on an Emergency, no time for research basis) fit into the “Hate Your Gas Can” category. (aren’t you glad you have someone to do the research in advance for you?)
Fortunately, you don’t have to end up with an aggravating gas can (or any other product), because you subscribe to GreatStuffThatWorks! (Ok, a shameless plug.)
So thanks to Chris G., we researched a product that most people wouldn’t,
and found the only Safe and “Easy-To-Use” fuel cans on the market.
My goal is to help you live with only the products that make life better and easier every time you use them.
Because life is just better when you live withTheGreatStuffThatWorks!
To Purchase One of These Great Fuel Cans,
Click the Links Below to see the latest prices at Amazon on the No-Spill cans.
And when you buy through one of my links, you get the same low price and help fund my research!
No-Spill also make cans, with the same nozzle design, for Diesel, Kerosene and a variety of other fuels.
Not yet a subscriber?Click Hereto not miss a new review or update! (We never send you anything but solid, quality content. Promise.)
Also, Check My FYI Below For a Tip to make sure the gas you put in your No-Spill doesn’t go bad and gum up your motors.
FYI: Ever have trouble starting a mower, snow blower, etc. after it sat unused for a while?
Unfortunately Ethanol begins to gum up gas after sitting for just a few weeks unless it is treated with an Enzyme Fuel Stabilizer.
The product is widely available, one small bottle treats dozens of gallons of gas and it can keep your gas from turning to gum for as long as a year with one properly mixed application.
Just read the label for the proportion to add per gallon, add it to theGas Canbefore you fuel the motor, (Not The Motor’s Tank), and use the motor.
Next spring your sleeping mower will be a lot less likely to wake up grumpy.
A bottle that treats about 48 gallons runs around $10.00. A lot cheaper than a motor service or pulling the carburetor apart. I’ve used this brand and several other similar enzyme fuel treatments for several years and it has definitely saved me from aggravation. (A $125.00 carb re-build inspired me to use it)
Tip: Also try to run your motor out of gas if you can at the end of its season. The less gas in the tank, the less gas to gum it up. Cheers, PG
FromOur Readers: “Paul, I am writing because for the last few months I have been looking to replace my old George Forman Grill with something more sophisticated. I want an on/off switch, adjustable temp control and removable/reversible plates. Everyone I researched has several poor customer reviews and the complaints seem to be repeated by several reviewers.
Of course, I am only paying attention to the bad reviews. I’m afraid the good reviews are placed there by the manufacturers. Any suggestions? It is very frustrating.” Marilyn B.
PG: “Marilyn, you’re experience is exactly why GreatStuffThatWorks.com was created. We know how hard it is for people to sort out what product is actually good in any product type and the Countertop Grill category has many options.
Our research found a Countertop Grill I believe meets all your requirements and will be easy to live with.
Based upon on our experts feedback, consumer experience research and our own personal testing, you should have years of solid performance from the one model that qualified as a GreatStuffThatWorks Product.
So, here’s what our research found!”
The Short Story:
1. Base and Cover: Solid construction with stainless steel self-adjusting cover
2. Panini-Style Handle: Sturdy cast-metal handle allows cover to pivot to accommodate thickness of food
3. Removable and Reversible Cooking Plates: Nonstick and dishwasher safe for easy cleanup
4. Grill Side: Perfect for grilling steak, burgers, chicken, and vegetables(Ribbed side, allowing juices to drain)
5. Griddle Side: Prepare flawless pancakes, eggs, bacon, and seared scallops(Flat side, with no Grill ribs)
6. Controls: Switch Indicator lights signal Power On and Ready to Cook
7. Selectors: Choose the Grill/Panini or Griddle function.
Indicator Light on each selector turns green to signal “at temperature.”
8. Grill/Panini Control: Adjusts temperature from “Warm” to “Sear”
9. Griddle Control: Adjusts temperature form 200°F to 425°F
10. Drip Tray: Collects grease from both plates, even in “double griddle” position. Slide out tray removes from base for easy cleanup (dishwasher safe)
11. Cleaning/Scraping Tool: Helps clean grill and griddle plates after cooking(Use Only when plates are fully cooled)
12. Plate Release Buttons: One top and one bottom. Push in to release and remove cooking plates. Each release button opens the two plate latches simultaneously.
13. Hinge Release Lever: Allows the cover to extend back for cooking in the flat position. (Double Grill position)
16.) Plastic Cleaning Tool included. (Only for use on fully cooled grill plates)
17.) Owners Manual and Recipe Guide(Well written with temperature and time included in recipes)
The Inside Story:
Many people are big fans of Countertop grilling for its fast, versatile cooking method and convenient size.
But, Countertop Grills are a product category that until you say the words “George Forman,” most are not sure what you’re talking about.
Since the time “George” created the category, many companies have made their own version of this versatile kitchen appliance.
Originally released in 2012, the Cuisinart Griddler 4N model qualified as a GreatStuffThatWorks Productbecause this model has evolved to address nearly all the issues people have expressed about earlier Countertop Grills across multiple brands.
It is well made, multi-functional, easy to use, has a customer support department that we found accessible and helpful and is backed by a three year warranty.
Now, most importantly, here’s what this Countertop Grill can do for you…….
Our research found there are two major reasons people buy this type of space saving grill:
1.) To conveniently grill meats and vegetables indoors in a way that drains fats and oils away from food as it cooks.
2.) To enjoy Panini (grilled top and bottom) style sandwiches.
But it can also cook a variety of other edibles quickly and quite well.
We’ll explain as we go….
Like all products, if you read reviews in this category (and we often read hundreds when we research a product), you’ll find issues people have experienced across all brands.
Some are the result of poor design, quality control, user error or trying to use the product in a way it was not designed.
After talking with experts in a product type, we always start our second research phase by identifying the primary concerns users have had with that type of product.
For the Countertop Grill category, here’s what we found:
Countertop Grill Issues
1.) Grill plates were not removable, making clean up difficult and awkward.
2.) The top lid did not angle, creating a wedge effect when closing the top lid on a tall sandwich.
3.) Attachment clips that hold removable grill plates were made of plastic and either broke or melted.
4.) Non-stick coatings began to peal in a very short time.
5.) No variable temperature control for the top and bottom grills.
6.) No “Off” switch. The only way to turn off the grill was to unplug it from the wall.
7.) Grease would not drain properly and hot grease would warp the grease collection cup.
8.) Power cord was too short. Not enough cord to reach an outlet conveniently.
9.) Top griddle didn’t get as hot as the bottom one.
10.) Tall, narrow grill ridge spacing on some brands made cleaning between ridges difficult.
11.) User Manual was poorly written and with no time / temperature recipes included.
So Marilyn, I understand why your search has been frustrating.
But our research and testing found a model that meets our GSTW standards as a well designed, well made Countertop Grill and it does everything you requested and more.
As you experienced, older versions of this product type had fixed grill plates that made their flexibility limited and clean up very awkward.
With the non-removable plates covered with grease, the only way to clean them was to bring the unit near the sink, carefully apply soap and water onto the griddles and then wipe them down with paper towels.
Some also had tall, narrowly spaced grill ridges, making them difficult to clean between. (Remember, you shouldn’t be using abrasive scrubbers on any non-stick finish or you can remove the non-stick coating.)
The Griddler 4N has Removable and Reversible Griddles that not only make it more versatile, but provides two non-stick cooking surfaces, one smooth and one with well spaced,low, flat-top ridges, that make them easy to clean. (Issue#1) (Issue#10)
Our users experience research, confirmed by our testing, showed this makes cooking different types of food (bacon vs eggs) efficient and the pop out, dishwasher safe plates, can go right to the sink or washer for easy clean up.
Tip: When you first open the Griddler 4N, we recommend fully washing the new plates before their first use. This helps remove any manufacturing residue and can reduce first use smoking from the new plates.
But what really adds to the Griddler 4N’s versatility, is a slider on the handle that transforms the Griddler 4N into it’s “Double Grill” position.
Before you start, just slide the top handle release to open the grill so that both grills face the sky.
The front handle becomes the stand for the top.
Then choose the plate surface you want for each half and set the curved plate notches into the stainless steel hooks at the back edge.
Snap the sides of each plate into the two stainless steel clips on each side, being sure they are fully latched.
You then choose either “Griddle” or “Grill-Panini” on the center power Selector.
“Griddle” will activate both plates and let you set the temperature on both grills to specific temperatures from 200-425 degrees.
The “Grill-Panini” setting will allow you to adjust an equal temperature on both top and bottom plates, using Low/Medium/High/Sear ranges used within some recipes. (Issue #5)
In the open “Double Grill” position, both griddles can cook two different types of food simultaneously or twice as much of one.
With the Griddler 4N in the “Double Grill” position, both plates will drain their oils into the dishwasher safe (no warping) grease collection tray that slides under the Griddler 4N’s frame.(Issue #7)
Panini or Panino?
The Italian name Panino refers to a sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread. But to those of us in the U.S. U.K. and our friends up north in Canada, the plural form Panini, has come to refer to a “pressed and toasted sandwich.” (Yum!)
To make a “Panini” style sandwich, the top lid of the Griddler 4N will release and pivot horizontally to evenly apply pressure to the top of the sandwich. (Issue #2)
Cuisinart created a simple pivot system that releases the top lid section when you apply downward pressure to the front edge. (When making a Panini, Remember to Use an Oven Mitt to release the top, as all of these types of units get very hot on top.)
To re-latch the grill top, just remove the sandwich and close the top lid against the bottom plate.
Holding those hot plates to the frame on many other units we looked at were “heat resistant” plastic clips. One of the recurring issues our research uncovered was that over time, some of them melted or distorted, making secure attachment or removal for washing the plates a problem.
Cuisinart addressed this issue in the Griddler 4N by using Stainless Steel attachment clips and provides a push button on the side of each grill section that unlocks the two stainless clips (one on each side) simultaneously for easy grill plate removal. (Issue #3)
Retaining a non-stick coating on metal has always been a challenge for manufacturers. High temperatures, expanding contracting metals and users cutting or using metal kitchen tools on them has not made it easy.
That said, some manufacturers have had greater success than others and the Griddler 4N appears to have one of the better lasting coatings.
Our research found very few complaints about the coating releasing.(Issue #4) In some other brands we found complaints about the coatings in just a few months of use.
In our personal testing, the drippings from “Seared” steak,
or melted cheese overflow from Panini’s, and Sockeye Salmon rubbing juices, all cleaned up easily and quickly. By taking the fully cooled plates to the sink and washing them with soap, water and a paper towel, everything wiped off easily.
If you are cooking different types of food in one sessionand want to remove the remains from the last item, Cuisinart recommends using a wooden spoon or heat-proof plastic utensils to push the excess food and grease buildup into the grease drain channels.
Then wipe the grill plates with a paper towel.
The supplied cleaning tool should not be used while the plates are hot.
TIP: To help preserve the non-stick surface, Alwayswait for the plates to fully cool before cleaning.
The plates are also dishwasher safe, but our research found most people felt dishwashers did not remove grease well enough or left water spots. Many users confirmed the best way to clean them was by hand. We also found hand washing quite easy.
Some of the grills in this category do not allow you to vary the temperature of the grill plates.Most all of the original versions of this product type were just “On” when you plugged them in and “Off” when you unplugged them. You played “how hot is it really?” and made your own notes for different foods. To make it more fun, cooking times were often not listed in the manuals.
The Griddler 4N provides two variable temperature controls, one for the “Griddle” mode from 200-425 degrees and the other for “Grill-Panini” mode, from Warm to Sear, with top and bottom grills both being activated.(Issue#5)
Choose the left control when your recipe calls for a specific temp and the right-hand control if it calls for a temperature “range.” When the plates are at temperature, a green light on the dial you selected turns on.(nice!)
You’d think that a simple thing like an On / Off switch would be a standard feature, but in this product category it is not.
Most all of these units turn on and off by plugging or unplugging the unit from the wall, not by a switch. Even the most famous of brands still requires unplugging, even when the up-line model’s cooking timer has elapsed. The timer is just a reminder to remove the food.
But the Cuisinart Griddler 4N has a large On / Off dial front and center and it illuminates when the unit is on. (one of the features you also wanted, Marilyn).(Issue #6) So when you finish cooking, you just switch it to “Off”, instead of stressing the cord yanking it out of the wall each time to shut it off.
Since we know a lot of you love waffles, we also tested the optional waffle plates. (Model GR-WAFP)
With the lid closed, the Griddler 4N comes up to temperature from cold in under 5 minutes, indicated by the green light on the setting dial selected.
For waffles, Cuisinart recommmends using the “Griddle” selection and then setting the temperature to your recipe. The Cuisinart “Basic” waffle recipe suggests 400 degrees.
My guest “Chef” (a wonderful cook and great friend’s wife) volunteered to make waffles for 6 of us one Sunday morning. I clipped in the optional waffle plates and turned it over to her for the test.
She followed the Cuisinart waffle recipe in the provided recipe book (reverse side of the waffle plates manual).
These Cuisinart tested recipes list both the ingredients, the temperature setting, plus the expected time to cook.
(information missing from some other units of this type.)(Issue#11)
Some users of countertop grills also said their top grill did not get as hot as the bottom grill. We found few complaints about this (Issue#9) with the Griddler 4N with one exception:
When you’re installing the plates, particularly the top one, you need to be careful to properly hook the bottom of the plate into both of its lower mounts and then fully snap the upper clips around the plate sides.
If the plates are not properly seated, the grill plate will not be evenly spaced to the heating element behind it.
This crooked installation DOES result in uneven cooking.
In our first tests, I quickly installed the plates and didn’t confirm I had fully snapped the upper plate in on both sides.
Result: Our guest “Chef” for our waffle plates test discovered the first waffle out was lighter on top than the bottom.
I noticed the top plate was crooked from being unlatched, snapped it back into place and our waffles became much more evenly cooked going forward. (Issue #9)
The waffle plates create 4 waffle sections per pour. The Cuisinart recipe “MS’ followed includes temperature, cooking time and nutritional information for each recipe. (Issue #11) The “Basic Waffles” recipe said it would be about 3 mins./per waffle with the plates at temperature. (Different recipes will cook differently)
Per the Cuisinart directions, we lightly sprayed each plate with non-stick cooking spray (we had Pam) before each batter pour to assure easy removal and they came out very easily.
The recommended 3 mins. cooking time produced light colored, fluffy waffles.(and the consensus of the group, very good tasting).
We then went to 4 mins. each and that made them golden brown, but they were not as “fluffy.”
As with every cooking appliance, you experiment to find the “goldie locks” of time and taste for each recipe.
Our optimum time appeared to be 3.5 minutes per 4 section waffle consistently using this recipe.
Dividing each one into it’s four sections to serve 6 people faster, “MS” just kept them coming until the batter was gone. The group consensus was the waffles were very good tasting and light.
There were no leftovers.
There is one issue we didn’t see mentioned in our consumer experience research, but we found in our personal testing:
When you open the grill to put in the next item, while the top lid is released in the “Panini” position, we did have steam and oil droplets from the top drip onto the counter from the top lid.
This happens because as you lift the handle to open the lid, the now horizontal lid moves backwards beyond the lower plate beneath. This causes the top plate’s back edge to hang over the counter where it can potentially drip.
The dripping, when it happened, was minor, but we kept a paper towel handy to wipe the counter when we noticed something had dripped off the top plate.
Something I did have to get used to is how fast this grill cooks. A steak that I would normally cook two to three minutes per side, you guessed it, was done in half the time, as both top and bottom plates are cooking simultaneously.
So, as you’re getting used to this new appliance, err towards checking doneness sooner rather than later.
The final issue on our list was the length of the cord (Issue#8).
Although the amount of smoke generated in our tests of fish, meat, Panini’s and waffles was surprisingly small (it never set off our smoke detector 6 ft. away), some users with stove hoods wanted to set up their countertop grill on their flat stove top to take advantage of the venting.
Some other popular brands only had about a 2 ft cord, making reaching the outlet near the stove not possible without an extension (See page 2, Cuisinart Manual for guidelines).
The Griddler 4N comes with a 38″ (3 ft.2″) cord (yes, we measured it), which raises the odds you can plug it in conveniently. (Issue #8)
The cord also stores conveniently, wrapped around the support legs at the back of the unit.
Finally, one feature we thought might be a nice additionto the Griddler would be an on-board timer.
But for now, our research found the Cuisinart Griddler 4N does the best job at what it was designed to do:
Cook a wide variety of grilled foods indoors with great convenience and speed.
“How To Do The Cool Stuff”™- For Android Smartphones
In a sea of 600,000+ Android Apps, how do you ever find ones that really work?
Because you subscribe to GreatStuffThatWorks, you have us to do the leg (or finger) work for you.
Our focus today is on ways your Android smartphone can make life easier or more fun.
Most of the descriptions below will apply to Android Smartphones running the Ice Cream Sandwich operating software.
You say “Ice Cream what?” It’s just the name Google gave its Android operating system version 4.x.x.
To see if you’re already enjoying Ice Cream, Go to: Settings, About Phone and scroll down to “Android Version”. If it says your version is 4.0.4 or higher, you’re at least at the Ice Cream Sandwich level or beyond.
If you’re not, many of these tips could still work for you. If you have the option to upgrade to Version 4.x.x, I’d recommend it. Although it will work and look differently, I’ve found it to be operationally better designed, more attractive and pretty easy to get used to quickly.
11 Tips And Apps To Make Real Life A Little Bit Easier
Using Your Android Phone
1.)Rescue Your Phone. Without using a phone locator program, this low tech setting will give you a fighting chance to get your phone back if it gets left behind.
Go to Settings, Security, Owner Info. In the text box you see, type in your own version of this message:
“If Found, Please Call 415-555-5555. Thank You! Paul G.”
After you enter this, tap the Back button on your phone. The keyboard will disappear and above the text you just entered will be a check box next to “Show Owner Info On Lock Screen”. Check this box.
Now if you leave your locked phone anywhere, the moment someone turns it on to see who’s it is, the banner with your contact info scrolls across the top of the screen with your alternate contact number to reach you.
Of course, be sure to use a number other than your cell phone numberso you can have someone contacted that can let you know someone’s trying to return your phone.
2.) Know Who’s Calling Without Looking. Here’s a handy way to screen calls that is probably less disturbing than your JZ ringtone.
Go to Settings, Accessibility, Caller ID Readout. Tap this menu item and it opens three choices. Select “Caller ID then Ring”.
Now when someone calls it will tell you once who it is and then go to your regular ring.
3.)Drive Safer. Ever drive and try to dial on a smartphone? We shouldn’t be dialing at all or at least using Voice Dialing when in the car.
But we all know not every car has Bluetooth and everyone doesn’t use a portable headset or will pull over to dial.
To help address this unfortunate reality, the “Direct Dial” widget can make dialing any of the numbers in your contacts “one touch” from a home screen, radically cutting the “eyes off the road” time of the normal multi-step process. (Direct Dial is also great for emergency numbers.)
Once set up (described below), just tap your contact’s icon and it automatically dials them. Nothing else to do. You’re connected.
To make it quicker to visually identify one from another, the icon includes any picture you have associated with that contact.
Here’s how to do it:
First, Go to the home screen you want to put the Direct Dial on (that has an empty space). Press the “Apps” circle at the bottom of the screen. Touch “Widgets” at the top of the Apps listing screen. Scroll widget screens to locate the “Direct Dial” icon. Press and Hold the icon until it links to your Contacts list. Choose the number you want to make a One Touch dial. Done.
Now the new “Direct Dial” icon is placed on your screen ready to roll. Just touch it and it dials that person with no other actions required.
4.) End App Wandering. Ever turn on your smartphone and your apps are moved around or missing?
What’s causing this wandering is objects or body parts pressing against the screen when its on in your pocket or purse.
Here’s a simple way to end the wanderlust. Every time you’re done with what you’re doing on your phone, end by quickly pressing the Off Button. This will put your phone into standby and the screen will go black.
This will help you in several ways:
A.) It will prevent your icons from drifting or disappearing from your home screens when in your pocket or purse.
B.) It will save battery power by not waiting for the screen to time out to Off.
C.) It will assure your phone goes to its Lock screen as soon as you’re done, so it’s remains secure.
It’s a simple, helpful habit to develop with any touch screen phone.
5.) Razr ReBoot Trick. If you have a one of the new Motorola Razr’s, now built without a removable battery, you might want to know how to quickly Reboot the phone if one of your programs freeze it up.
Here’s the secret:
Press and Hold the Power Button and the Down Volume button simultaneously for about 5-8 seconds until the phone screen goes black. Release the buttons and wait for the Razr to reboot. This action will usually clear Android’s head back to normal, keeping everything else intact.
6.) QR Droid. Have you noticed those black and white speckled boxes on ads or in newspapers? They’re called QR (Quick Read or Quick Response) codes and they’re now becoming helpful far beyond advertizing use.
For example, more and more papers or magazines are placing a QR code at the end of an article. When you scan the code with your smartphone reader, they can instantly stream a video to your phone with additional, relevant information. The Wall Street Journal print edition is using this very effectively now.
This specific QR reader app is exceptional in both its design and features. It makes not only decoding, but creating QR codes for a variety of uses easy and quick.
Click Here. I’ll show you how it works!
7.) Medical Miracle – Epocrates. Have a friend or family member taking several medications and worried the drugs might be creating conflicts with each other?
Go to the Google Play store and download the free version of the app Epocrates. This app will let you enter the different medications by name and then tell you if there are known potential issues to watch for.
It also gives you a Drug Reference to check usage and dosage, a Pill ID to identify what a pill is by its physical characteristics, Manufacturer Contact Information for a wide selection of drug manufacturers, Doc Alerts on a variety of subjects, even a section with Calculators, like for the Body Mass Index, for a quick check on your numbers and more.
This app, in one of its free or paid versions, is said to be the app most doctors have on their own phones.
It’s a great way to help keep you or your loved ones a little bit safer from prescription conflicts.
8.) Battery Conservation. Battery drain is just a reality of life with a Smartphone. Even if you’re now benefiting from our GreatStuffThatWorks “Best Smartphone” recommendation, the Razr Maxx, saving battery power is just smart.
Here are two great ways to do it more easily:
1.) Power Control Widget. Create a clear space on one of your home screens for a widget that will take up about 1/4 of your screen. (this will be worth the real estate use).
Press the Apps icon at the bottom of your screen if you have Android Version 4.0.4, or go there however your phone is set up. (On the previous software version, call Gingerbread, you press and hold on a blank area of the screen until the Apps/Widgets menu pops up) Select Widgets. Look for the Power Control widget and select it.
This one widget will give you fast On/Off access to the 5 major power drains on your phone. WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, Background Syncing and Screen Brightness. The screen brightness button let’s you quickly adjust the level from Low, Medium to High. This is especially handy for when in outdoor bright sun to help see the screen, like when taking Photos. And “Auto Brightness” to regulate brightness itself based upon conditions. (an “A” will display in the center of the sun icon).
To maximize your battery life or if you notice your battery is getting low, you can quickly turn off services or adjust the screen brightness lower to stretch your remaining power.
2.) Smart Actions App.If you have a Motorola Razr, you get another really helpful power saver that does it for you automatically! Most people don’t have any idea what this really valuable app can do for them.
This Motorola exclusive app can tell your phone when it should be saving your battery automatically for you. (The app will do many other things for you automatically, but we’ll just cover this one application and you can play with the rest.)
>Go to Apps, and find the Smart Actions app. Open it and you will see several Pre-made programs listed to get you going. (You can also create your own as you get comfortable playing with the suggested configurations.)
Look for the “Battery Extender” Smart Action that is listed and tap it to open the configurations. At the top of the screen you will see a section labeled “Triggers.” This is where you tell your phone under what conditions it should do something to help you. (saving your battery power, in this case).
A battery-like icon will slide left and right so you can “engage” or “dis-engage” the specific trigger shown. If you want to add additional Triggers not listed on the display, touch the “+” sign to the right of the word Triggers and it will open all the Trigger options you can choose from.
The first thing to do is decide under what conditions (triggers) you want your phone to do something.
For this example, when the following conditions are all present, we want our phone to automatically disable specific power draining services.
Back on the “Battery Extender” menu screen, I suggest adding the following Triggers (circumstances) listed below, if they are not already there.
Add the Triggers: Display, Charging, Motion Detector.
Once added, tap each one to open it’s settings.
>We want Display set to Off, Charging set to Not Charging, and Motion Detection set to No Movement.
This means when our Display is off, we are not charging the phone and there is no motion for several minutes, the Actions will be triggered. These combined circumstances indicate we are not actively using the phone and therefore aren’t getting any advantage from leaving these services on draining power.
After they’re installed, be sure to slide each icon against the left side of window to “connect” it. (you’ll hear a click)
Now scroll the screen up to see the“Actions”section of the screen.
Here’s where you tell your phone what to do when the Trigger conditions are met. The “+” here will show the complete list of Actions available to you.
Add the “GPS”, “Background Sync” and the “Bluetooth” Actions here and click them to the side to “connect” them.
At the very top of the screen tap “Save” and you’re done.
I’ve now told my phone that when my phone is sitting, I don’t need Satellite Location, my apps being constantly updated or my Bluetooth system looking for a device to connect with and so my phone automatically shuts those services off. Pretty cool, huh?
If you want to check at anytime if these services are off or on, just slide your home screen over to the Power Control widget I told you about and adjust accordingly.
9.) Cool Flashlight App. There are a lot of apps that make your phone act like a flashlight, but this one is the best I’ve found for all it offers.
Tiny Flashlight+LED in the Google Play store is well designed and versatile.
On the LED flashlight setting, you get not only an easy on/off switch that clicks to confirm, but the percentage of power left in your phones battery is clearly displayed on the same screen. A very valuable piece of information.
But the LED flashlight is just one of 8 different light functions you can choose from.
* Front Screen Illumination * SOS LED Flashing, and you can vary the speed to save battery. * Strobe Light * Stop Light * Variable Light Bulb. Slide your finger up/down the bulb to brighten or dim * Variable Color Screen. Swipe left and right to change colors, up / down to change intensity * Police Lights. I’ll let you figure out what to do with this one.
There’s also a Settings area to let you customize the apps behaviors.
Two other nice features of this app is it keeps the LED light lit, even when you put your phone into Standby, letting you black out the main screen to save battery. It also lets you press Home and move to any other screen without turning off the LED light. Nice.
More than 1 million 5 star ratings means a lot of other people seem to like this app too.
10.) A Little Home Screen Zen For You…………..
Koi Live Wallpaper for Android. If sitting by a beautiful Koi pond takes your stress away, then I have a treat for you.
Now the Koi can rescue you anywhere you and your phone may go.
Koi Live Wallpaper by Kittehface Software (in Google Play market), is probably the most fun you’ve had with fish without getting wet. And it costs all of $.99 for the full option version, or free with less ways to have fun with your new friends.
FYI: I recommend the paid version because you can customize it quickly to be one of the coolest live wallpapers our research has found yet!
I tested it on a Motorola Razr Maxx operating on the Ice Cream Sandwich software (Android version 4.0.4). With it’s beautiful screen detail, the graphics are just stunning.
Now here’s the “cool stuff” you can do:
First, with the very sophisticated graphics Koi Live Wallpaper has, the Koi have both an amazingly natural motion and look. This app is also optimized for both an Android phone and tablet.
In the paid version, you get to:
* Choose the number and type (20 different kinds) of Koi in your pond.
* Set their individual size as you choose them, using a variable slide control. (virtual doping!)
* Choose from 14 different background settings (as of this writing) that your Koi will swim above, from Aquarium to Fountain (my favorite), Pompeii to Sea Floor, all very realistic and in beautiful detail.
* Set the “Camera pan” speed, ie. how quickly the background animation elements move.
* Add your own custom background. And Kittehface Software periodically adds new backgrounds inside software updates.
* Accessorize your scene by setting the number of Lily Pads or Sea Flowers you want to float by.
* Play “Mother Nature” and make it automatically rain on your pond along with setting the rate of the raindrops. If you touch or drag your finger across the pond you can “Watch the infinite ripples connect to the universe, Grasshopper. (Remember Kung Fu? From old re-runs, of course.)
But here’s the coolest trick: If you check “Startle Fish” in the settings menu (paid version), when you tap a fish… it scurries away from you!
And if you double tap on the screen, you feed your fishy friends and they all rush to the center of the screen!How cool is that!
The app is so Zen to look at, I moved everything on my phones’s Home screen to one screen over so my new best friends remain full screen throughout the day.
A few useful details to know:
A.) When you install Koi Live Wallpaper, it doesn’t require any “permissions” in the paid or free version, so all your data stays put on your device. (Nice).
B.) In several days of testing I have noticed a little additional battery drain on my Razr Maxx. If you notice any, you might try slowing down the rate of the animations to reduce how frequently they trigger.
But it may be more likely, however, that my constant checking on the fish (or showing them off to friends) affected my battery usage more than anything else.
C.) If you’re on Verizon and upgraded to the Ice Cream Sandwich software version, this app is optimized for it. They just recently also adapted the app for the new Android Jelly Bean software too. (now on some tablets). This app is beautifully designed, rated 4.7 stars in Google Play and the closest thing to “On Demand” meditation.
Last, but definitely not least……….
11.)WeatherPro Weather Forecasting App
There are all sorts of Weather apps. HTC and many third party Android developers add weather info to clock widgets, live wallpaper and more.
But most are quite sparse on detailed, multi-day information other than temperature and forecast.
WeatherPro (available in Google Play) in a very good free version, has great, multi-day detailed information, beautifully presented and easy to navigate.
Inside this well designed app you get:
* Today’s weather forecast, high / low and current temperature and wind speed.
* “Feels Like” temperature, Dew point, Relative Humidity and Barometric Pressure.
* By swiping to the right you get the day’s forecast broken down in Hourly segments, with the predicted minutes of sun that hour, predicted probability for precipitation, number of inches of rain and wind speed.
* Swipe again on a specific hour and you get a larger display of the information plus the Relative Humidity percentage.
* At the bottom of the screen you get the graphs the data came from, like a bar graph of the hourly predicted minutes of sunshine, etc.
* You also get “in motion” graphics for both Radar and Satellite weather images. These are very nicely done and include a “You Are Here” GPS dot on the screen for a reference point.
By tapping the “More” icon at the bottom you get access to WeatherPro’s Settings, Air Pressure maps, Weather News menus, a map of European water temperatures, along with a view of the features you’ll get if you decide to upgrade from the free to the paid version (currently $5.00/year.)
The paid version includes: Mountain and Hiking weather, 14 vs 7 day forecasts, Precipitation type radar, Precipitation radar forecast, up to 10 hours of Radar/Satellite coverage, UV Indexes and current water temperatures for the North and Baltic Seas, the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and the Caribbean.
It all adds up to a well designed, deeply detailed, easy to use app that I believe you’ll find valuable to consult daily.
And that’s a wrap! All the best, Paul
Find This Information Valuable? I’d be honored if you’d
Share my Workwith Your Family and Friends. All the best, Paul
UPDATED: 02/28/2012. See FYI-2 at end Re: Front Panel Brightness Option
If you’re like us, HD has made DVR recording a constant decision.
What will we delete, have we cleared it with the family and what’s going to get dumped automatically ’cause its low in the priority list?
In a time when memory has become so low cost that you can buy 3 Terabytes for around $200, for a number of reasons the cable companies have been slow to provide this capability.
Verizon is starting to selectively release their new, black, smaller DVR with triple the capacity using a 500 Gig drive.
This upgrade takes your recording storage from the standard HD DVR (about 20 hrs HD) to about 60 hrs HD. This new box is now also EnergyStar compliant, so it saves power.
But wait, there’s more………..
For those of you that like to hoard even more programs for future viewing, for the first time you can add up to a 1 Terabyte External dSATA capable Drive to this DVR! Verizon currently has certified two sizes of the MyBook external drive by Western Digital, which you buy yourself at additional cost.
Let’s quickly clear the jargon. The MyBook has an eSATA connection, which is just a very high speed interface that allows the computer (in this case your DVR) to read and write data very quickly to an external drive (the MyBook), necessary especially with HD video.
But, there’s a catch.
Due to the piracy fears imposed by the broadcasters (one of the reasons this hasn’t happened before), the information you store on this external drive is NOT transferable to any other device or Even A Replacement DVR of the same brand and type.
So, yes, you can store a whole lot more, but the same rules apply to the external data as do for the internal storage:
You can’t take it with you if your host DVR is ever changed, upgraded or replaced. At least until they create a “secure, locked down” way of preventing the data’s duplication and distribution.
So, whatever you put on the External drive will be inaccessible if the main DVR is replaced for any reason. To reuse the space on the external drive you must reformat the drive to the new DVR.
But let’s not lose sight of the 2 core benefits this new DVR gives you:
Benefit #1: For most, just having the significantly expanded DVR space of the 500 Gig drive alone is probably fine, even if you never opt for an external space extension.
Benefit #2: The new DVR now looks like a partner to your other high tech components. (From the 80’s to the 2000’s in a single leap!)
It’s smaller, all black, with just a few front panel buttons that are attractively integrated into the high gloss, blacked out face.
It’s dimensions are: Height: 3.1 in. Width: 15 in. Depth: 10.2 in. In the menu, you can also configure what displays on the blue illuminated front panel when it’s on or off.
Here’s what you get for connections: (Skip this if you glaze over at technical stuff.)
At the rear left, you get digital and optical audio outputs (usually labeled S/PDIF, for the Sony/Phillips Digital Interconnect Format), Component Video (RGB-Red, Green, Blue connections), S-Video (a round, multi-pin connector that passes only video) and Composite Audio/Video (the yellow connector is for video and the Red (Right) and White (Left) are for Left and Right audio).
Your FIOS cable connection goes to the screw on cable connector highlighted with a Green background, as there are two cable type connections at the back. The other one (highlighted in yellow) is a cable pass through to another device, if you need it. If you hook it up and there’s no picture, check this first.
The connections for the HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) and the external eSATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drive are on the right rear of the DVR. (see the previous photo.)
End of tech talk.
One ergonomic difference my wife picked up on right away is when you record. They switched from a Red recording indicator, to the small word “Rec” in blue, to the left of the larger channel / time display. Once you know where it is, you can find it, but it is small and not as easy to quickly see. This DVR will still record two different channels at the same time, as you could before.
To get one of these new, currently limited supply DVRs, you have to get on a waiting list.
To save you from confusion and torture, see my FYI-1 at the end of this Tech Update.
I show you the easiest way to get to the sign up list.
It’s inside your Verizon.com account and the only way to get on the list, is to get to this page.
I also show you how to get there manually, in case my link doesn’t work for you. It’s not pretty.
When your name comes up, you’ll get an email telling you how to accept the offer. If you accept, Verizon will tell you when the new DVR is scheduled to arrive.
That’s when you’ll need to decide what to watch and what to ditch in preparation for receiving / swapping for the new box.
Or, here’s another option to consider. You can keep your current DVR also, arrange to swap out one of your Non-DVR HD boxes and pay the rental difference.
Now we all already give Verizon plenty of cash, but depending upon your situation,
this might actually be a reasonable thing to do because,
If the rental cost difference is worth it to you, 3 things happen:
You have no decisions to make about what shows to ditch before you swap.
You get to have an additional 20 hrs. of recording capacity on a separate DVR, so you preserve at least some recordings even if one DVR fails in the future.
Instead of paying for a MyBook’s full cost in one payment, you get to budget the cost of having more “external” storage over time.
And, with the external eSATA option, if your main eSATA capable DVR goes out, you lose access to all of your shows on both drives simultaneously. At least with option B, you lose only the recordings on one DVR, and if either rented DVR fails, Verizon replaces it for free. You own the MyBook.
Here’s where the this idea really gets flexible.
With the new upgraded software, if you have the Multi-Room media option, it will now allow you to access and delete shows recorded on either DVR from any Verizon Fios cable box in your home. Hallelujah, technology marches on.
If you want to upgrade to the Multi-Room capability, my suggestion is to Call Verizon Fios at: 1-800-837 4966 and see if there are any specials that might offset the extra cost. Always worth checking, but you should do that direct.
The cost for the new DVR upgrade is a one time cost of $39.99, billed to your account.
Verizon confirmed that there are no other charges to upgrade to the 21st century.
Now where’s my remote?
FYI-1: Here are 2 ways to get to the sign up page so you are in cue to get your new large capacity DVR:
The Simple Way: (Having already cut through the forest for you.)
1. After you have read through step 2, Click on or Copy and paste the link in step 2 into your internet browser bar at the top of your screen. Hit return.
(Full disclosure, there is no compensation to me connected to this link or from Verizon for any of this. It’s just to help you avoid getting lost.)
2. When you arrive at the MyDVR page, you will see a picture of the new DVR,
But the Ad that displays it is only for ordering the Multi-room capability.
DO NOT CLICK ON THE “Order Now” button or you will get lost.
Instead, LOOK TO THE RIGHT for a“SIGN IN NOW” box. Click on it and sign into your account.
As soon as you complete the sign in, you should arrive at this DVR Expansion “Sign Up” page to get on the 500 Gig DVR cue list.
(You’ll need your Verizon.com User ID and Password to do this. You will have the option to create one if you don’t have one currently or retrieve them if you have forgotten them. Tip: Do this from your home, as the fasted way to get the Password/ID retrieval info is an automated call they will make immediately only to your home telephone during the retrieval process.)
Complete your name and email address and click send. Verizon will email you when you come up on the cue and will provide final instructions to order it, confirm the $39.99 one time cost and the shipping time.
Save the box it arrives in, as that’s the box you use to return the equipment you’re swapping out.
Or, if the first method doesn’t work, here’s the hidden path to get on the new DVR shipment list.
1. Log In To your account at www.verizon.com.
You’ll need your User ID and Password to do this. You will have the option to create one if you don’t have one currently or retrieve them if you have forgotten them. Tip: Do this from your home
, as the fasted way to get the password/ID retrieval info is an automated call they will make immediately only to your home telephone during the process.)
2. When logged in, check to be sure it says “Welcome, (your name)” at the top Right of the page. If you don’t see your name after the word Welcome, click Sign Out and log in again, so your name appears.
3. On the Red tabs at the top of the page Click On the “Entertainment” tab.
Drop down to “Fios TV“, then sub menu “TV Home“.
4. Now below the top Red tabs are a set of Grey navigation tabs. Look beneath them, in smaller print, and Click “Settings“,then in the drop down sub menu,Click “Set Top Boxes”
5,On the Right of your screen there will be an Ad that says “Want more from your FIOS DVR?”
You Have Arrived at the sign up box! (Now wasn’t that easy???)
Complete your name and email address and Verizon will notify you when your names comes up in the cue.
When you receive email notification that you’re on deck to get it, the email will provide instructions on how to accept the upgrade, confirm the $39.99 one time cost to your account and when it will be shipped to you.
Save the carton it arrives in, as that’s the box you use to return your current DVR safely. PG
FYI-2: One of our subscribers wrote me to say the front display was too bright for them to sleep with. Well, here’s a solution. (no, it’s not putting black tape over the display.)
If the FRONT DISPLAY is too bright, or you just want to save a little electricity, this DVR gives you the option to shut off all the front panel display lights when it’s in standby, ie. when you’re not watching TV. (the display comes back on the moment you turn it’s power back on.)
Here’s how you change the setting:
Using the Verizon DVR’s remote:
1.Press the Menu button
2.Scroll down screen to “Settings”, Press “OK” button.
3.Scroll down to “Set Top Box”
4. Scroll RIGHT to “Front Display”
5.Scroll Down to “Standby Front Display”
6. Scroll RIGHT to “Turn Display Off”
7.Press “OK” button to Check “Turn Display Off” option
8. Press “Exit” button.
Now when you turn off your Set Top Box, the sleek front display goes completely Black. As soon as you turn on your DVR, it illuminates. This setting will also work for your other HD and SD set top boxes.
One more tip: When you are Watching TV, if you want the display to always show you the channel or go to the time after you’ve selected a channel, use the same process described above and just stop at “Front Display”, scroll right and choose between “Show Time” or “Show Clock.”
FYI-3: Here’s the Technical Installation Manual for the QIP 7232 P2 DVR for you techies. This is a hardware installation manual, not a user’s manual.