The Workbox (Made by The Original ScrapBox)

Workbox-01
As long as we’ve been in our house my wife has needed a proper solution for storing her various craft supplies. Over the years we moved some plastic drawers and spare shelves into the room but they didn’t work well for her purposes. Though many of the containers would hold most of her items they were difficult to keep organized and simply weren’t made for this purpose.

Early this month she decided to purchase The Workbox, which is made by a company named The Original ScrapBox. At first glance some may hesitate on purchasing one because of the cost (around $1,600) but, after seeing it in use, I think my wife made a good choice with this purchase. Note that the above photo of the Workbox does not show the included shelving and storage.

This post isn’t going to cover the full details of assembly or a personal review of The Workbox (afterall, this is my wife’s purchase and not mine). Instead, I just wanted to mention a handful of items that some may consider stumbling blocks or that may not be immediately obvious.
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Monster Ntune Headphones

Monster-Headphones

I had no interest in ever spending more than $100 on a pair of stereo headphones, which is why this particular purchase was a bit unusual for myself.

Personally, I don’t understand why folks are spending an average of $100-$200 for stereo headphones (such as the Beats brand). Perhaps it’s more of a status thing, like owning Apple stuff? It’s not that I think the headphones are bad but at the end of the day they’re just stereo headphones. I’d prefer to spend that kind of money on headphones that include digital, surround-sound support (I’m actually a bit frustrated that I have yet to find a pair of such headphones that don’t require a large, block attachment).

I was out to spend some spare cash one night and after browsing various sections of the electronics department at our local Wal-Mart I was unable to find anything that was remotely interesting. I just happen to pass by a display of these Monster Ntune Headphones. While in the store I started looking up the cost and reading reviews on Amazon. To my surprise, this particular style of headphones was slightly more expensive from Amazon at the time. After careful deliberation I decided to purchase a set at Wal-Mart, which cost about $80.

They are very good headphones. I suspect they’re not too dissimilar from the Beats line considering the interesting history between Monster and Beats. To be frank, this is probably the first time in my life I’ve ever purchased anything made by Monster.

I’m very happy with this purchase. They’re certainly better than any other pair of headphones I own except for my surround-sound headphones (unfortunately, those are not very portable). Are they worth $80? That’s a tough call because I haven’t spent a significant amount of cash on a pair of good headphones in several years though I don’t really care about the minor differences between this model of headphones and other models that cost more but are made by the same company.

Updated 02/22/2014: The headphones continue to work great and have held up just fine. I carry them around in my backpack almost every day, keeping them in the microfiber bag that it came with.

Mophie Juice Pack Air (iPhone 5)

Juice-Pack-Air-01

The quest for my ideal charging case seems to be an ongoing adventure. For a while I used a Mophie charging case with an iPhone 4. It worked fine until the micro-USB port broke. After that I sent the case off for repair and switched to a wireless charging case. Eventually I ended up with an iPhone 5. A short time after receiving it I ordered another wireless charging case (Duracell Powermat PowerSnap Kit). The newer version also included a snap-on battery pack (that itself could be charged wirelessly).

The case worked OK but it felt clunky and when the battery was attached it was also heavy. Most of my issues with the case were relatively minor but as a whole it was somewhat awkward even though it functioned as advertised. One major annoyance is that a small piece at the base of the case had to be snapped off in order to sync the phone or charge it directly. I also became increasingly concerned that this particular piece would eventually break, thus rendering the entire kit useless until it could be replaced.

Recently I decided to try a Mophie Juice Pack Air with the iPhone 5. So far, I’m happy with it. I can’t say that it’s any lighter than the Powermat kit but at least the battery is always available and, more importantly, I can sync and charge the phone via the built-in micro-USB connection. Unlike the Powermat case, the Mophie case is far more sturdy. It also has a bottom section that separates but it’s a well formed piece that is not likely to break easily.

Juice-Pack-Air-02

It’s a great device though it has one significant flaw. When the battery charges the phone it will not stop charging once the phone reaches a full charge. Instead, it will continue to charge the phone, which can result in one using up the Mophie battery sooner than expected (or necessary).

A nice touch was the addition of a headphone extension cable.

Juice-Pack-Air-03

It may seem like a small thing but I’m already using this. Though the iPhone earbuds plugin just fine, a pair of larger headphones I recently purchased would not work with the case without it.

Updated 02/22/2014: I haven’t been able to sync the phone via the micro-USB connection. I’m not sure if the device is supposed to support this function, if there’s a problem with the battery pack, or perhaps there’s an issue with the cables I’ve tried.

Updated 07/06/2014: The battery still holds a good charge and so far the charging port hasn’t broken off.

Updated 12/31/2014: I’ve stopped using this charging case but only because my work phone was replaced with an iPhone 6. Up to that point it continued to work well and I did not have problems with the USB charging port, as I did with a similar case for an iPhone 4.

Moving from a Nintendo Wii to a Nintendo Wii U (Deluxe Set)

Wii-U-Gamepad

All three of the major consoles have released a new generation of systems. As an owner of the three older systems I had already decided that I would eventually purchase a Microsoft Xbox One and a Nintendo Wii U. It’s unlikely I’ll purchase a Playstation 4.

It may not be fair to judge a new console based on my experience with an older one but I just never used the Playstation 3 very much. I’m not debating whether or not it’s a great system. It is. But it just didn’t have very many games that I wanted to play (it had a rare exception here and there but overall it wasn’t a major draw for me despite it actually being my only console for a period of time).

Since the previous generation of consoles were first released I’ve put in far more hours playing Xbox 360 games than those of any other console. Yet, that’s not the first console I’ve purchased from the new generation. Yes, I do want one and suspect I’ll have one before the end of 2014, but right now I think the cost is too high. I’m just not eager to shell out $500+ for a console. I wasn’t even very eager to shell out $300 for my latest console purchase.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Last Friday (Black Friday) I finally decided to go ahead and purchase a Nintendo Wii U. It’s likely that I would have held off on purchasing it if Nintendo hadn’t released the Mario & Luigi Deluxe Set, which I bought at Toys “R” Us. The cost of $300 for the set was something I could accept though a drop down to $250 would have been preferred. The kit includes the Deluxe system (32 GB instead of 8 GB) as well as New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.

So, was it worth the cost?

Yes.

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