Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Coffee Roaster Comments Update

Most of a year ago, I posted on a friend's Blog about Home Coffee Roasters. At the time, My flat bed roaster was in the process of going belly up, and I was experimenting with a new iRoast 2 machine from HearthWare.
It's several months later, and I can now report the the IRoast is a much better machine than then previous Hearthware coffee roasters that I have owned. The electronics are much better and much better shieled, and as a result it is much more durable.

I've replaced a couple of plastic pieces (as a result of my dropping them) but the electronic base / heater is still going strong.

Due to the volume of coffee that I roast for the office, I've now purchased a second iRoast2.

My only complaint is that it is too sophisticated for the programming interface that it has. There are only a couple of buttons, and as a result custom programming is an error prone and tedious process.

That's a pain, but it is generally a one time pain, since you don't program it again once you have the roast profiles you want stored in the bases non-volatile memory. So, Again, I give this a big thumbs up. The original Hearthware roasters worked well for a brief period of time, but the electronics were not protected from the units own heat well enough and they tended to have very short lives. Hearthware seems to have fixed this problem with the IRoast 2 version.

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Swiss Diamond Cookware

My wife and I are pretty active cooks... In fact, my two teenage boys can probably outcook most adults when they want to. Like most kitchens, ours has seen a long line of non-stick cookware. Everything from the very cheap to the very expensive.

About 8 months ago, I was looking to replace the latest nonstick pan casualty, when I tripped across the Swiss Diamond brand via a general search on Amazon. The description looked to good to be true, and after years of durabilty promises, I was a bit skeptical.

But, after several months of very heavy use the two frying pans that I purchased still work and look like new. I've purchased a set for my mother, and will be buying more in the future. Very highly recommended.

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Toshiba Direct -- Buying a new laptop

We recently needed to buy a new Windows laptop. The laptop was needed to:

  1. give my wife a fallback computer while the lap top she uses for her consulting gig is repaired
  2. to replace an aged family desktop.

As is my usual style, I investigated the options to death. I looked at DELL's web site (we have corporate discount), at HP and IBM's web sites, at NewEgg, TigerDirect and as well as all of the usual suspects in local outlets (CompUSA, Best Buy, Costco, MicroCenter, Circuit City...

The lap top will be used for general computing including Visual Studio development, Game Playing and normal Internet/Office activities. Decent game performance is a priority, since that is the most taxing task we will likely push at it.

The last time I bought a laptop, I ended up buying it locally at one of the usual suspects, because my wife was starting a consulting gig in a couple of days and she needed it right away. I was also naive enough to think that a local shop would make the warranty more useful / valuable.

This time around, I was less naive. The local warranty we had purchased last time around only lived up to the letter of the agreement. As the sales guy claimed: We were able to just drop the laptop off, and they would take care of any and all issues. What they didn't tell me was that for laptops, they don't fix it locally, they just mail it off to a third party repair center with a two week turnaround. So much for a local warranty, it saved me the trouble of boxing it up and going to the local UPS store. The machine has now been gone for 6 weeks. I think they fixed the original problem (the fan was making a very loud noise) but they had not properly reconnected all of the cables and the laptop would not power on. This was fixed in two weeks again, but they didn't get the power buttons aligned properly and it would not consistently turn on and off. No more paying a premium for local warranties for me, at least for laptops.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. I had pretty well settled on a Toshiba laptop, so the choice was one of the local usual suspects, a web based computer center (NewEgg, TigerDirect...) or... Topshiba Direct.

Well this turned out to be a no brainer. Toshiba Direct offered a newer, better model than I could get at the other outlets and at a better price. It had a better screen, was bundled with Vista Ultimate and best of all had an nVidia 7900GTX based video card instead of the nVidia 7600 offered at the other outlets. And it was a couple of hundred dollars cheaper, especially when you figured in the 3 year comprehensive warranty that was about 1/2 the price. Yes, if it's broken, I will have to mail it back myself. But I got a heck of a deal on a very nice laptop and it arrived via UPS in 3 days.

So, bottom line, if you are looking at a Toshiba laptop, do yourself a favor and compare what you can get from Toshiba Direct. I am very glad that I did.

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