portable washing machine – Danby DWM17WDB, 2017

One of the best features of portable washing machines is their low energy consumption. The Danby DWM17WDB is the most energy-efficient portable washer on our lineup. It only uses up to 26 kilowatts per year, which costs around $15 annually.

Summary

This washing machine stands 33.9 inches tall, 21.4 inches wide and 21.6 inches deep. This is around the average size of mini washing machines. It also sits in the middle of the weight range for portable washing machines at 84.5 pounds. Though it’s about the same size as similar washing machines, it only holds about 1.7 cubic feet of fabric.

Its top cycle speed reaches 700 rpm, quite fast for such a low-energy washer. This small washing machine has eight wash cycles and reaches up to four water levels. Cycles include heavy, delicate, quick, spin and soak only.

Most compact washers use a pulsating method to shake soils off clothes. This model uses an agitator instead. Agitator washers have a spindle in the center of the washtub. The spindle often has fins or vanes that stir the water around them. While agitators work to remove stains from clothes, they lower washer capacity and can damage delicate clothes. This is certainly the case with this Danby model, which only holds up to 1.7 cubic feet, despite its similar size to larger-capacity models.

Setup for the Danby DWM17WDB is standard for a mini washing machine. This unit comes with two inlet hoses for cold and warm outlets. If you only have a sink as a water inlet, you can unscrew the faucet and attach one of the hoses. The drain hose hooks up to your sink to drain excess water. Wherever you place the washer, make sure it’s in a sturdy, level spot. The machine will wash your clothes evenly and won’t spill or unhook from its connectors. You’ll find a level knob to adjust the legs on the bottom of this unit.

For all its standard features, it is missing a few that distinguish it from the best portable washing machines. Among the missing key features is the time-remaining indicator, delay start and end-of-cycle signal. All of these features are normal in portable washing machines like this Danby model. The time indicator would shows how much time remains on the wash cycle, the delay start would allow you to load clothes and wash later, and without an end-of-cycle signal, you’ll have to keep a close eye on the washing machine. If you leave your wet clothes in the washtub, they can grow mildew and require you to wash the clothes again.

The Danby DWM17WDB is average in size and capacity, but it’s missing some features of the best portable washing machines. There is no delay start, end signal or indicator to show how long the cycle needs to run. In addition, the agitator lowers the washer’s capacity and increases the risk of damaged clothes. Thankfully, this washer has a gentle cycle, in case you’re worried about tangling or damaging delicate clothes. However, if conserving electricity is a priority for you, this energy-sipping model is a good candidate.

personal firewall software – Total Defense Internet Security Suite 2017

Total Defense Internet Security is a full security suite that we include in our review of the best firewall software for individual users because of the trend toward combining firewalls with security suites. It has passed quite a few certification tests for its antimalware properties. However, it did not receive the very best firewall performance scores at the most important test lab for firewall software.

Summary

Firewall Features; Unfortunately, Total Defense is not the best firewall, according to the best independent lab for firewall testing, Matousec. The results for Total Defense Internet Security Suite running on Windows 7 are not among the best.

Additional Security; Total Defense Internet Security is more than firewall protection. A complete security suite, it includes parental controls, network protection, antispam and antiphishing, as well as antivirus detection and removal. You can use this product for incremental backups, identity protection and data migration. It gives you reports that contain system alerts and user activity so that you can monitor your system status. You can receive monthly reports that consolidate system alerts and protection events.

To protect your children, you can make a user profile for each child that lets you control what they can see, where they can go and how long they can be online. This home firewall software integrates with Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines to protect you from phishing sites.

Help and Support; Total Defense is one of the firewall products we reviewed that is easy to use. You can configure parental controls and schedule custom scans without difficulty. When you need assistance, you can reach this firewall software publisher for free, 24/7, by online chat, telephone or email. Total Defense can help you with installation or any other issues at any time. There is also a frequently asked questions section and a community forum where you can receive assistance from other users. Total Defense also makes good use of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to provide support for and information about its products.

According to an independent test lab that the industry respects, Total Defense is not the best firewall for Windows. It is, however, a complete internet security suite that has passed antimalware certification tests conducted by VB100, West Coast Labs and ISCA Labs. It contains many useful features and utilities, and the publisher provides excellent support.

nutrition software – Weightmania Pro 2017

Weightmania Pro is exceptional nutrition software with an emphasis on fitness. It stands out among the software in our review and earns the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award. Weightmania Pro tracks your weight, daily nutrition and fitness goals and gives you regular updates on your progress as well as some pointers on how to improve your diet and exercise routine. The food database is extensive, customizable and wrapped in a clean user interface that is easy to use. Weightmania Pro truly excels in their customer service.

Diet Management

Weightmania Pro is built on the premise that great health is unlocked by balanced fitness. You can only achieve true results if you make an effort on both nutrition and exercise in tandem rather than separately. You have a number of options with this software for personal use such as PC and Mac versions, an online version and an app for iOS devices. The built-in calendar is a way to track your health over the long term. The desktop version lets you have up to two users. There are many different calculators in Weightmania Pro to track body mass index, percentage of body fat and much more.

The nutrient history in Weightmania Pro also doubles as a calorie counter and informs you how you can develop your diet and track over a hundred different factors in your diet. Your goals, body measurements, medical conditions and weight history are easily accessible and easy to maintain. If you get tired of looking at numbers when you use Weightmania Pro, you can also view the data in helpful graphs and reports that summarize, and this information is easier to digest.

Weightmania Pro has a large food database that will help you keep a detailed and informative food log. Each of the entries in the food database promotes good nutrition by telling you exactly which nutrients are included with that food in the form of a nutrient summary. You can even add your own custom food items if you can’t find them in the database. Do you have a favorite food that you eat frequently? Just add it to the favorites so you don’t have to search the database each time you eat it.

If you often eat fast food or brand name foods, you can look the food up by its name and get detailed nutritional data. With this feature, you no longer have to fear fast food and can balance that out with healthy food. The calorie bank keeps track of the food that you eat and transfers any unused calories to the next day so you can splurge a little and have some cake.

While many nutrition applications let you add recipes into the program for future use, Weightmania Pro only seems to let you add the nutritional content from the recipes. You can plan your meals by adding them to the food log and it will tell you if that day’s plan will get you all of your important nutrients. The true strength of Weightmania Pro lies in its exercise features. You can choose from hundreds of different exercises that go into your exercise log. Keep track of which muscle groups you need to work on and how much cardio you do each day with these exercise features.

General Nutrition

Weightmania Pro is easy to navigate with a simple user interface. You can get to every feature in the application from the home screen. If you get lost, you can always go back to that screen to find out where you were or to use a different feature.

You can contact Edward A. Greenwood Inc. if you have any issues with Weightmania Pro. They are available via email or phone. You can also look at the FAQs on their website to try to fix the problem yourself. There is no user forum to share experiences and tips with other users of the software.

Weightmania Pro is an excellent choice if you’re looking for nutrition software that focuses not just on your diet but also your physical fitness. The extensive features are powerful and helpful. The large food and exercise databases are full, useful entries and are expandable. The software is easy to use and comes with comprehensive technical support. This is one tool you definitely should consider in your quest to be more healthy.

Help & Support

Summary

rolling luggage – Traveler’s Choice, 2017

The New Yorker 4-Piece Luggage Set from Traveler’s Choice features enough storage room for family packing or for an extended business trip. The set includes three pieces of rolling luggage and a shoulder tote.

Two of the luggage pieces in this rolling luggage set can be used as a carry-on. The smallest suitcase, which measures 21 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches with a possible two-inch depth expansion fits the common maximum 45-inch linear requirement for rolling carry-on luggage for most airlines whether you choose to extend the depth or not. The tote bag, which measures 15 x 11 x 6 inches, might even fit under the seat of some airlines, letting you carry both bags on at the same time if you don’t have another laptop or purse with you.

The remaining rolling luggage pieces in the set offer ample packing room without exceeding oversize luggage measurements for most airlines. The largest bag measures 29 x 17.5 x 10 inches and the medium bag measures 25 x 15.5 x 9 inches. You can extend packing room for either bag by unzipping the extension, which adds another two inches in depth to each piece.

All four bags feature polyester and dobby polyester construction. Soft sides make for flexible packing and storage, and interior liners help protect your items during transit. Exterior zipper pockets let you separate items for access or organizational purposes, and the three rolling luggage bags feature both telescoping top handles for use with wheels and side handles for carrying. The tote features a shoulder strap and hand straps.

The wheeled bags feature two inline wheels on the back and a horizontal foot on the front, letting them stand without support. The skate-style wheels are designed to reduce friction, which could help with traveler’s fatigue if you are walking a large airport or city. The entire set is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty for five years.

Reasons to purchase the New Yorker luggage set might be that you travel regularly with the entire family or take extended vacations or business trips yourself. You might also benefit from a selection of luggage sizes if your travel needs vary; those that only take overnight or short trips may not need such an expansive luggage collection.

powerpoint tutorials – TrainUp.com

TrainUp.com was once a one-stop solution for PowerPoint tutorials as well as any other course you might need, from business skills to human resources. Unfortunately, these courses are now outdated, with no new versions showing up in the extensive TrainUp.com library.

Summary

Navigating the TrainUp.com site is fairly simple. The first thing you need to look for is the link to Online Training. Once you have clicked that link, you can easily search for all available PowerPoint resources. Each webpage on the site has the same search field in the heading. You can also use drop-down menu items to narrow your search.

TrainUp.com offers loads of courses in a variety of ways, such as instructor-led seminars and on-site training. The PowerPoint 2007 Training Seminar is available online, so you can take it at your leisure or whenever it fits into your schedule.

Despite such a large number of tutorials across various fields, TrainUp.com doesn’t provide any samples of their tutorials. A link to demo this tutorial was broken and inconclusive, leading only to a blank webpage. Closed captioning is not available through TrainUp.com online training courses, either. Details on the tutorials are available on the products page. The course runs for 12 months so you have plenty of time to move through it at your own pace.

For a site with so much content, TrainUp.com is very well organized. You are able to sort through the mass of course options with ease and find what you’re looking for, whether it’s a simple rundown tutorial, or a bundle that covers basic, intermediate and advanced information.

The content of the PowerPoint 2007 Training Seminar is broken into three sessions, each with several sections. The first session covers the basics such as what makes an effective presentation, creating initial content and working with lists. The second session is on topics like using existing content, SmartArt diagrams, pictures, and photo albums. The third and final session delves into multimedia and animations, proofing and reviewing as well as presentation preparations.

The instructor of this course is Erin Olsen. The site lists Olsen as an expert, but does not provide any specific accreditation to back up this claim.

This is a comprehensive training platform for all kinds of users. Whatever level of experience you have with multimedia presentations, you can pick from the large pool of tutorials offered by TrainUp.com.

Depending on which course you register for, TrainUp.com covers a variety of PowerPoint versions, from 2000 to 2007. Their neglect to include an updated tutorial for the 2010 version is a major shortcoming.

The TrainUp.com line of customer service consists of telephone, email and online chat support. The email and telephone numbers are both dependable. You can email directly from any webpage focusing on tutorial details to request more information on that course. The online chat function is disappointing as it is always offline, or nonfunctioning when online.

We were impressed with the selection of courses TrainUp.com offers, but when they aren’t updated versions, the effect wears off. This PowerPoint tutorial was a great resource in 2007, but since you can’t even run free trials of this old tutorial, we say its better pass on this outdated program and look at the newer and more recently updated applications.

mp3 players – Sandisk Sansa E260 4GB

The successor to the e250, the Sandisk Sansa e260 includes many of the same features, has subscription music support, and is considered an excellent alternative to the iPod Nano.

The Sandisk Sansa e260 features 4gb of memory, a 20 hour battery life, 1.8 inch-screen and video and picture support. The Sansa e260 supports MP3 files and WMA files (protected and unprotected) making this device compatible with most subscription services. Additional features include FM radio and built-in microphone.

Users tout the Sandisk Sansa e260 as a great iPod Nano alternative, particularly for those who prefer to use Windows Media Player for file transfer. However, some found the mechanical click wheel and bundled software to be cumbersome.

For those familiar with Window Media Player who are looking for an affordable MP3 player with a well-rounded set of features, look no farther.

personal finance software – YNAB 2017

You Need A Budget (YNAB) is simple software that allows you to add transactions from your financial institution, credit cards and brokerage accounts. The program forfeits advanced features to minimize its simplistic user interface. If you are looking for a simply way to keep track of your budget, this is a good choice for personal finance software.

Summary

You can upload files you download from your financial accounts, but this home finance software does not sync directly to the companies to transfer transactions and balances. You can upload OFX, QFX, QIF or CSV files of your transactions, which most banks offer in one format or another. Once transactions are uploaded, you can edit categories, payees and other elements of the line items. The personal account software also remembers information you’ve entered for quick entry later. You can further edit payees and categories as well.

Entering manual transactions is simple and intuitive, as the whole interface is. The platform is neat and organized logically. When creating a budget, you can view the actual amount spent from the previous month to gauge what you may spend the next month and set limits. You can simply copy the budget to the next month as well and adjust individual categories as needed. You can choose to have certain accounts be off budget as well if, for example, if you do not wish your investments to count towards your monthly budget or balances.

YNAB offers mobile apps for both Android and Apple mobile devices, but you must have a Dropbox account set up to use as a cloud intermediary. With the mobile apps, you can add transactions, view all accounts and adjust your budget. A summary at the top of the app displays rollover from the previous month, the amount funded for the current month and the amount used month-to-date. A PIN allows you to protect your personal information.

This software has minimal reporting options: category spending, payee spending, trends, income versus expenses and net worth. You can adjust the timeframe and the specific account you want to view the report for, and you are provided with a pie chart and color-coding key. This information is certainly important and useful, but the best personal finance software offer many more reports. Further, you can only export reports in CSV format.

There are also no investment reports, and tracking investments is limited. You can add bought and sold securities as you would a typical transaction, but that is the extent. It keeps track of your broker account total, but there are no additional investment options, such as viewing a portfolio overview, allocating assets or comparing your portfolio to the market.

YNAB is a great choice for simple budgeting. It is one of the easiest systems to use, and the interface is organized and intuitive. Creating a budget is quick and simple, as is manually adding transactions, including with the auto-save function that keeps track of previously used payees and categories. But if you have more complicated budgeting needs, such as better tracking and reporting options, you may want to look to other personal finance budgeting options on our lineup.

online reputation management – Gadook 2017

Gadook online reputation management service is an inexpensive but effective service that concentrates on ensuring your positive reviews are seen while pushing the negative ones off the front page of search results. It concentrates on controlling reviews and maximizing the SEO of your current websites, building social media and blogs, and disseminating press releases to draw more traffic to your website.

Summary

For businesses not rocked by scandal, the most common reputation issue stems from review sites that have a predominance of negative reviews or positive reviews buried under the negative. Gadook controls 35 review sites where you can lead your customers to send reviews. In this way, it can promote the positive reviews while alerting you to the negative ones so you can address the complaints without taking a hit to your reputation.

This service believes a strong website is crucial for a good reputation. It analyzes your existing website and suggests improvements. Much of it has to do with standard SEO techniques, but Gadook constantly experiments with new techniques and monitors keywords and Google algorithms to ensure its methods are up to date. It also doesn’t limit itself to Google, but works to get the most effective mix.

This service isn’t limited to reviews and websites. It can help you develop and maximize your social media, which builds customer relationships and helps push negative content off the first search page. It also creates and distributes press releases in order to help generate more backlinks to your sites, increasing domain value.

Gadook’s proposal was what we’d expect from a top ten product. It was very specific about Gadook’s roles and analysis. It differed from other services, though, in that it did not provide a reputation analysis ??? i.e., the negative sites that came up under specific keyword searches. Rather, it focused on the SEO of our test company’s website. However, this could be because Gadook felt we needed reputation marketing rather than management. It seems to consider reputation management for when a company is dealing with a scandal, as opposed to negative reviews that come naturally from having a large clientele. Further, the proposal itself was very general without any mention of our test business or its particular issues.

The company did not reveal its clients, which is a plus for privacy, but it also meant we had no references or case studies to judge its effectiveness. Looking at the Gadook website as an example of its own work showed it to be below the average of the top ten: It ranked about average for SEO, but well below average for backlink health. Backlink health is vital for establishing website authority. When we checked Google autocomplete, the only “Gadook” that showed up involved towns in the Middle East.

Gadook offers more links to free tools for social media monitoring, reputation marketing tips and even suggestions on how to remove a negative review. However, the information has not been updated in a while.

Gadook is straightforward in what it offers in an online reputation management service. It respected the privacy of its clients more than any other services we reviewed and didn’t pad its proposal with extra work. However, its own website does not make a good case for its performance, and it didn’t provide case studies as references. The overall proposal was detailed but not as specific as others we reviewed. Nonetheless, for the price, Gadook is a worthy service if you need help with reputation management.

outdoor speaker – Polk Audio Atrium 45

Polk Audio has a variety of high-quality audio products. A number of their external audio systems have made it into our review. The Polk Audio Atrium 45, however, is the least impressive outdoor loudspeaker we reviewed. It has a small frequency response range and a low sensitivity rating. While the Atrium 45 isn’t as impressive as other outdoor speakers, it is still one of the 10 best exterior audio system options.

Summary

The Atrium 45 is designed for the outdoors. Polk Audio made sure this product met or exceeded multiple military-grade waterproofing specifications. This means that it will have no problem handling the elements in your backyard. It is also resistant to rust and corrosion. While they can be used indoors, these all-weather loudspeakers were made to be outside. However, always be sure to point outdoor speakers downward to enable proper drainage during a rain storm.

While the rugged exterior is impressive for an outdoor speaker, the interior is only ordinary. The soft dome tweeter measures 0.75 inches in diameter and includes a neodymium magnet. This powerful magnet allows for quick vibration, and the flexible diaphragm on the driver gives the audio a natural sound. The woofer is made with a mineral-filled polymer to give it a rigid quality. This 4.5-inch midrange driver has rubber surround, which is more durable than foam surround. It is also constructed using Polk Audio’s Dynamic Balance technology, which uses laser precision for better balance and sound.

The sensitivity rating measures how effectively audio devices can convert wattage into volume. The higher the number, the less energy the drivers require to produce a given volume level. A difference of 3dB, for example, means that one product uses half as much energy as the other one. The Atrium 45 outdoor speaker has a sensitivity of 86dB. This is one of the lowest sensitivity ratings in our review. More energy has to be pumped into this loudspeaker in order to get the same volume level as another product like the Polk Audio Atrium 55.

The human ear can hear frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz. Frequency response is a measurement of the range of frequencies a device like an outdoor speaker can reproduce. The Polk Audio Atrium 45 has a frequency response of 75Hz to 20kHz. This is one of the narrowest frequency ranges in our review. This lack of low bass tones may cause the audio to sound thin in the open air. It also is unable to reproduce supersonic frequencies that are sometimes added in audio mixes to enrich the listening experience.

Since Polk Audio has a number of quality products in this review, it is surprising that this one ranked so low. However, the limited frequency response combined with the low sensitivity means that this outdoor speaker cannot give the full, rich audio offered by other models. It is able to withstand the elements, but it may not be able to withstand a discerning ear. However, despite its low ranking, the Polk Audio Atrium 45 is still a viable outdoor speaker option for your entertainment.

photo manager software – Proxima Photo Manager 2017

If you’re interested in pure and simple photo manager software that tags, sorts and shares your images, you should check out Proxima Photo Manager 2013. While there are editing and sharing features in this software, at its core, Proxima is all about photo organization and management. The software provides a list of your folders on a panel similar to what you see in your computer’s folder drive, so you have quick access to your files; there’s no importing or waiting for your images to appear. You can import new images via your scanner or camera.

Summary

Other photo manager programs try to cram advanced editing, organizing and sorting features into one space. Proxima???s interface is simple and standard for a photo organizer. New images sit in a folder list in the right panel, while you view your images in the middle and select actions on the left panel. The top toolbar is customizable to suit your preferences, which gives you easy access to the tools you use the most.

This photo management software has some useful organization features like duplicate searches and batch tools. If you have a lot of copies of an image with different edits and you want to eliminate the extra files, the duplicate search can thin your photo collection to the essentials. Batch tools can resize, convert, rename and rotate a large group of images at once. For batch renaming, we suggest adding a date first then tags and qualifiers, so your image names look something like 2015.Vacation_Mexico [34]. You can auto-sort your images based on several criteria like location, file size, modified date, and image height or width.

Proxima can create web galleries and slideshows to share your photos. Creating a web gallery only takes a couple of minutes, and the program provides templates and settings to create a web album with your photos. The software provides layouts and a range of thumbnail and full image sizes. Proxima’s slideshows are easy to make because they can start with one mouse click, but that convenience comes at the cost of customization. You can’t choose slide length and music or make other standard adjustments seen in photo manager software. You have to reorder your photos manually to change their order in the slideshow.

Although Proxima is far from an all-purpose photo editor, this program does have balanced editing features. The tools are simple enough for beginners to use but still cover essential adjustments pros want. There’s no content-aware removal or cosmetic editing available in Proxima. Within the editing tab, you can adjust exposure, color balance, hue, saturation, white balance and correct red eye. To get a closer look at your image, you can click and drag a box around an area to zoom in. You can also sharpen or smooth your image, as well as play with grayscale and inverted colors. In addition, there are several tools to remove noise in low-light images.

Proxima is all about organization and photo management. You won’t find too many extra features in this program, but if you want a streamlined photo manager software, this may be a good choice. Sorting features include batch tools, duplicate searches and tagging to find photos easily. Images import quickly and directly into the program as well. While it lacks pizazz in the sharing and editing categories, Proxima accomplishes most management tasks.