Posts tagged "review"

About a month ago (I’m so behind in posting!), we bought a new buffet for our dining room.  It’s part of the Canopy collection of assemble-it-yourself furniture at Wal-Mart and it’s actually called an “Anywhere Console”.

New Buffet for Dining Room

New Buffet for Dining Room

At first, we were a little leary about purchasing something like this at Wal-Mart, but it seemed like it was pretty good quality and the price was right, so we thought we’d give it a try.  Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the furniture.  It’s constructed of solid wood, so it’s a really substantial, sturdy piece of furniture, and the finish is very rich.  The fine print on the assembly instructions said it was made by Sauder, but it seems a lot nicer than any of the other Sauder furniture we’ve ever had.  Assembly was pretty unique – the whole thing went together with just a hammer and a block of wood.

So far, it’s provided some much-needed storage for our “good” china, which had previously been taking over the kitchen cabinets.  We weren’t sure how much weight the shelves would be able to support, so we decided it was best to not load them up with stacks of heavy plates, but there’s still a lot of room for completer pieces and some of the smaller dishes.

The Inside of the Buffet Cabinet

The Inside of the Buffet Cabinet

The buffet also came with two additional drawers that can be used in place of having the two shelves in the middle.  I liked the idea of using the shelves to display some of our dishes now since we don’t have a glass china cabinet, but figured if we ever move the cabinet to another room, the drawers will help it feel more like a console table and less like a buffet.

We haven’t had it long enough to really be able to comment on how well it holds up, but from everything we’ve seen so far, we’d highly recommend it.  It looks really good without costing much at all.

Time for a New Dishwasher

Last week, we decided we’d finally had enough of the nastiness that was our old dishwasher and concluded it was time to upgrade.  Our old dishwasher was a KitchenAid that really didn’t look all

The Old Dishwasher

The Old Dishwasher

that old or particularly abused and we’d had pretty good luck with a KitchenAid that we’d installed in our old house, so we were a little reluctant to give in to the fact that it just wasn’t working right.  After using it for a little more than a year, though, the dishes were still coming out with food particles stuck to them … glasses had always been a challenge, but it was even to the point where the plates weren’t getting clean any more.  So, we decided it was time to give up on the KitchenAid and try something different.

We started our research with the Consumer Reports Buying Guide, which recommended the Kenmore 1374x and the Bosch SHE33M0xUC as “CR Best Buys” under $1000.  Since we’d had problems with the old KitchenAid dishwasher and also because Consumer Reports listed them as a brand more likely to need repairs, we decided to not consider any models of that brand.  Between the Kenmore and Bosch models, we really liked the fact that the Bosch had a stainless steel interior at a much lower price than it was available in the Kenmore models.  It also seemed that the Bosch dishwashers consistently got good reviews and high marks for their ability to clean dishes efficiently and quietly, so we decided to go with a Bosch for our next dishwasher.

Although the SHE33M0xUC model (part of Bosch’s Evolution line) was the model reviewed and recommended by Consumer Reports, we had trouble finding one at Lowe’s or Sears and there weren’t any other local retailers that carried the Bosch brand.  After looking at the models in stores, though, we also decided that we liked the controls being hidden on the top of the dishwasher panel instead of the front, so even if we could have found the exact model reviewed by Consumer Reports, we probably would have purchased something a little different …

We had a little trouble identifying the differences between all of the models in the Bosch product line, but the best we could tell was that the higher priced models were a little quieter, came with more flexible rack configurations, and maybe added a cycle or two.  Otherwise, they all appeared to be about the same dishwasher.  We wound up buying the SHX43M0xUC dishwasher, which is part of the Integra line (with hidden controls) in black.  It’s rated at 54 decibels and is significantly quieter than our old dishwasher (which I didn’t think was loud).  The Bosch has also done a great job of cleaning the dishes so far.  It’s definitely an improvement overwhat we were working with before – I haven’t had to re-wash anything!  One negative I read in a lot of reviews of the dishwasher was with respect to the “Condensation Drying” feature, which others felt left the dishes too wet when the cycle completed.  For us, the drying of the Bosch dishwasher seems as good or better than the “Energy Saving Dry” feature of our KitchenAid and we’ve got no complaints.

The New Dishwasher

The New Dishwasher

The only couple of places where we see room for improvement are the fact that there’s no light on the front of the dishwasher to indicate whether or not the cycle is complete (which is hard to tell since it’s silent during the drying cycle) and that the silverware basket is positioned in the middle of the bottom rack and can’t be relocated, which makes loading the dishwasher a little more challenging.  Both of these gripes, however, are addressed in the upper models of the Bosch line if we’d been willing to pay a little more.

All-in-all, we’re really happy with the decision to purchase the Bosch so far.  It’s an amazing improvement over the old dishwasher, for sure!

Since we moved in to our house last September, we’ve been trying to figure out how to set up our network to deliver HD content to televisions and computers throughout our house (using the open source MythTV DVR software). In our previous home, we were able to run the whole bundle of wires (audio cables, video cables, coax, etc.) from our MythTVNetgear Powerline HD server through the drop ceiling in our basement to all of the rooms we needed to access. This house, however, is presenting a much greater challenge. Our computers and televisions are spread out over three floors without a single drop ceiling in the house.

We’ve realized it’s probably going to be too great of a challenge to run the full bundle of cables to every television in the house, so we’ll probably have to switch to a setup where we have separate client PCs near the televisions so that all we’ll have to run is network cable to provide a way for the clients to talk to the server (conveniently located in our basement). Even running just Ethernet cable, though, is no easy task, so we’ve been looking at other options.

Our first attempt at setting up the network was to run everything over wireless. It’s great for surfing the web, but even non-HD television skips. So, this weekend, we were at Best Buy and saw the Netgear Powerline HD network adapters that promise to provide a network over a home electrical system that runs at 200 mbps, capable of streaming HD content. We were both pretty skeptical, but thought we’d give it a try since it sounded like the perfect solution to our problems.

The adapters are easy enough to set up: one gets plugged in to an electrical outlet near the cable modem & router, with a network cable connecting it to the router. The other gets plugged into an outlet near the computer with a network cable connecting it to the computer. It takes about a minute, but the two eventually boot up and the blue light comes on, indicating they’ve “found” each other. Since setting them up, though, we’ve run a bunch of tests and been rather disappointed in the performance overall. On average, it appears to operate much more slowly than our (802.11g) wireless network and we weren’t able to achieve anything near 200 mbps unless we had both units plugged in to the same outlet (which of course isn’t practical). We aren’t sure if the poor performance is due to our wiring situation or if it’s typical for them to perform slowly, but even moving the two to outlets that are physically no more than 6 feet apart and clearly on the same circuit degraded the performance dramatically.

I think it’s fair to say that the power line adapters would perform fine for surfing the web, but come no where near performing well enough to transmit HD content from our basement computer to the television in the attic. So, it looks like they’ll be going back to Best Buy and we’ll continue to look for a way to snake Ethernet cable throughout our house.

Next »