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Walkie-Talkie Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size

• Weight

• Power source and battery life (to include charging time)

• Transmitter power and functional operating distance

• Weather integration

• Display technology

• Purpose for use

• Frequency options

• Privacy and security options

A walkie talkie is a handheld transmitter & form of communication preferred by many outdoor enthusiast as well as those looking for a simple way to communicate over medium close distances. It is a two-way radio system that is designed to allow you to communicate through code or speech and has been in active use for over 70 years. The technology was invented during the Second World War and is still widely used today. Being handheld, and point-to-point, it can be used at any time without the assistance of a 3rd party operator. Modern handheld radios are lightweight and compact, and are available with many add-on features, depending on the radio brand and purpose behind the purchase.

The generally accepted lifespan of a two-way radio is between 6 to 10 years. You may have to replace the accessories, of course, depending on how you use handle and use your radio but these are items made for durability and use. Accessories include batteries, charger, and headset.

Two-way radios can make a great vacation accessory for young children, and you may want to consider them in this capacity. For example, walkie-talkies can easily remove the worry of being out of reach with your children on the crowded beach - giving immediate access to communication quickly and easily. A walkie-talkie provides miles of coverage and, if you are worried about your children playing in the yard or the extended outside a walkie-talkie is a convenient way to keep up with them. Two way radio devices are usually considered very kid friendly due to their ease of use and durability, being appropriate for all ages 8 years of age and up. They make a great device for playtime for your children and their friends, and mom can even listen in on the children without them ever knowing if necessary.

Three Rules Of Frequency Management

1. Never transmit on a frequency unless permitted to do so.

2. Never use your home frequency outside of the your covered area.

3. Never randomly selected a frequency; it must always be authorized use.

Handheld radios can be a cheaper form of communication than the cellphone if that is of concern. It is a one-time purchase cost versus a monthly bill for an easy medium range no-frills form of communication.

If you are looking for something more, you can always purchase a two way that includes the benefits of a scanner, and many do. This feature allows you to keep up with what is going on around town and is also popular among hobbyists everywhere.

Overall, walkie-talkies are great multi-purpose devices that come in a wide range of form and pricing. Which unit is right for you will depend on your needs, and with just a little bit of research you will easily come up with the ideal device for you and your family.

READ MORE Car Seat Cover Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• How many & type of covers needed (2 chair & 1 bench for example)

• Make and model of vehicle

• Waterproof, sweat-proof, or standard

• Ease of cleaning

• Climate they will be used in

• Basic one-size-fits-all, or custom fit

• Stitching quality

• Matching the color to the interior of the vehicle

Simple tips for a new car seat cover

A car seat cover is quite simply something you place over the seat for protection. Car seat covers can help protect the value of your car as well as make the ride more pleasant, especially if you tend to "junk up" your car. A cover will also protect against other sweat and body odors from people or pets.

Here are a few simple tips for buying.

The practicality

You need to determine why you are buying the seats; what ultimately is the goal from purchasing and installing the seat covers. Are you buying them simply to look pretty? Do you have another reason from using one? The cover needs to function in the capacity that you need, so it is important to clearly define that from the onset.

How many do you need?

Most people like to place them on the backseats. This works, but you need to think about the usage. How many times will your backseat be used? If your backseat will only be used every so often, it makes more sense to put them in the front it you are not outfitting the entire car. It makes sense to put them where you will get the most value from them.

You also need to think about where you live. If you live in the colder areas, sheepskin is probably your best bet. Sheepskin will protect your car seat with the added benefit of helping keep you warm when the temperature drops outside.

If you live in a warmer area, white cotton fiber may be a better option. Cotton will protect you much better. There are some areas that rain more than others, and waterproofing will be more important. In wet areas, or if you anticipate driving while wet, Neoprene is going to be a good choice.

The make and model of your car

It's important that you know the make and model of your vehicle as manufacturers tend to make specific car seat covers to fit the car. You don't want to have a car seat cover that is too big or small as it is not something you generally can make adjustments on.

The fabric

You have a few choices here, as mentioned above breifly. A great option, if it makes sense for you, are saddle blanket covers. These are very durable and will go along way. The polyester-cotton is good for people who like to keep them clean, and allows for more frequent and easy washing.

Buying options

Take your time with your purchase. Do some research and find what is the best option for your specific circumstances. Look at each manufacturer individually. Does the manufacturer take his time with the detail? Does he just throw something together? Is there a warranty and will the manufacturer compensate you if something goes wrong?

Before you make the purchase, check out a few options before you make your decision. This is an investment that you will most likely encounter in some for every day, so you want to make sure that you made the correct choice the first time around.

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Trailer Hitch Kit Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Heaviest load anticipated

• Towing capacity of vehicle

• Gross towing weight of container

• Ball mount size needed

• If Class V hitch is required & vehicle alterations needed

• Quality of material type & welds

Choosing the Right Trailer Hitch Kit

Whether you drive a subcompact car or a heavy-duty truck, when it comes to pulling something heavy, you must choose the right trailer hitch kit to do it safely.

Purchasing the correct trailer hitch kit can be tricky. Some are designed for light loads and can be used on almost any vehicle with four wheels. Others are made to haul serious weight and require a heavy truck.

The first thing to consider is the towing capacity of your vehicle. This specification is found on the driver's side door of most vehicles. The next step is to determine the gross towing weight (GTW) of your trailer. Be sure it doesn't exceed the towing capacity of your vehicle. Consult the manufacturer to get the GTW. Be sure to add in the weight of any gear that will be contained inside of or attached to your trailer.

The trailer hitch kits themselves are divided into classes based upon the amount of GTW they can handle. A Class I hitch can safely pull loads up to 2000 lbs. They are great for hauling bike racks, cargo boxes, jet skis or even a motorcycle.

A Class II hitch is rated up to 3500 lbs. GTW. It typically attaches to the back of the vehicle and uses a 2″ size ball to connect to the trailer. Subcompact and other smaller size cars are too small for this hitch, but vans, SUVs, crossovers and trucks are usually fine. These hitches are great for pulling most small to medium size boats and trailers.

Class III and IV trailer hitch kits can pull a gross towing weight of between 5000 to 10,000 lbs. This is well beyond the towing capacity of a mini-van and requires either a light or heavy duty truck. These hitches still attach to the back of the vehicle, but they use a heavier 2 5/16′ ball mount to handle the additional weight.

For loads up to 17,000 lbs. a Class V hitch is required. They come in two types, the gooseneck hitch which has a heavy-duty 3″ ball, and the 5th wheel hitch, which uses a circular plate instead of a ball to make the connection. The receiver for both of these hitches must be mounted in the bed of the heavy duty truck you will be using. The gooseneck is anchored through the bed and the 5th wheel is extended above it. The trailer being pulled will require an extended front section that fits over the top of the pickup bed. An added benefit to a Class V is the better turning ratio you get by having it mounted toward the center of the vehicle.

Be sure to consult your owner's manuals for the necessary specifications. A call to your auto mechanic is also a good idea. Most auto shops and dealers can not only help with purchasing the correct hitch, they also can install the receiver section of it, which attaches permanently to your vehicle.

READ MORE Home Blenders Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Pitcher size

• Pitcher material

• Ease of cleaning

• Strength of motor

• Number of speeds

• Ability to ‘pulse’

• Noise level

• Type of blade(s) and options

• Weight

A smoothie is one of the easiest and healthiest meals you can make. It's also happens to be the perfect meal for someone on the go. However, if you want to make a great smoothie, you need to start with a great blender. Many blenders are on the market, and choosing one may be daunting. How do you know which one is the best? Follow these guidelines when shopping for blenders and you will be well on your way.

The pitcher makes up half of your blender. Therefore, choosing the right pitcher is your most important decision. Glass pitchers are much better than plastic pitchers straight across the board with the single exception of weight. Because of the heat, dishwashers ruin plastic pitchers quickly. Also, fruits like blueberries or food coloring stain plastic pitchers. Obviously, a plastic pitcher has less of a chance to break if you drop it, which is the only advantage other than weight over glass pitchers. Overall, you want a glass pitcher. As long as you don't drop it, a glass pitcher lasts much longer than plastic ones.

A blender's motor will make the difference between a great smoothie and a smoothie full of ice chunks. A powerful motor breaks the ice apart easily and quickly, which is what you need. Look for blenders that measure their motor's strength using horsepower. However, if you decide not to buy a blender with a horsepower rating, you can always microwave large chunks of ice to soften them if needed - 10 to 15 seconds usually does the trick.

The blender's base is important as well, if not often overlooked. Unless you enjoy cleaning spilled smoothies, you need a sturdy base to keep the blender standing upright. For example, if you don't have to worry about spillage, you can do something else while your smoothie is blending leading to a much more efficient experience. Also, you need a rubber base. The rubber prevents the blender from sliding during blending, and it may help to dampen the noise.

Everyone knows blenders are noisy. An easy way to reduce noise is to place a rubber mat or thick towel between the blender and the counter. This method reduces rattling, especially if you have a blender without a rubber base to start. Also, you can buy a sound enclosure to reduce noise if it is a serious concern. Only certain blenders have sound enclosure options, however, so do your research. Therefore, if you think you may need noise reduction in the future, at least buy a blender with an option to add a sound enclosure later.

Many blenders advertise the number of buttons and settings they have. However, all you need is high speed, low speed, and pulse. Does a smoothie maker really need a dozen different speeds? Certainly not - these are mostly done for marketing purposes. The pulse option is necessary because it gives you short bursts of high speeds. Therefore, you can break apart tough pieces of ice before blending.

Choose a blender with an exceptional warranty. Motors and carafes can break. Typically, home blenders come with a better warranty - up to three years. The manufacturer expects commercial blenders to get more use. Therefore, commercial blender warranties are shorter - about one year.

If you're in a hurry to make a meal, a smoothie is a great choice. However, don't rush your decision to buy a blender. Use our guidelines above to choose the right blender for you.

READ MORE Smoke Detector Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Building code standards

• Power source – battery powered, wired, or both

• Individual or Combo – basic smoke detector, or smoke/CO combo detector

• Technology employed – photoelectric or Ionization

• Style – visual impact of the location & stylistic choices

What to Look For When Buying Smoke Detectors

A smoke detector is easily one of the most import pieces of safety equipment in any home or business. Simply put, the lack of one can lead to the preventable damage of property, severe injury, or possibly even death to individuals. Take a few of these items into consideration when making a smoke detector purchase.

Review Building Code Standards

State and city governments set standards for the location of smoke detectors in buildings, and these can change at a moment's notice. For instance, some cities require detectors on each floor of a home with one at least six feet from a bedroom. This can mean certain floors may have more than one smoke detector. Check these regulations ahead of time. Not doing so may result in potential fines.

Battery Powered or Hard Wired

Original smoke detectors were mainly battery powered and could be placed on either walls or ceilings. Today's detectors also come in models which can be hardwired into a home or business' electrical system. However, they still have a battery backup in cases of power outage. This is still why safety and government organization tell people to change their smoke detector batteries during seasonal time shifts.

Combo or Individual

In addition to smoke detectors, buildings with gas heat require carbon monoxide detectors to alert residents and workers to the colorless, odorless gas. These two types of monitors tended to be separate devices in the past. Today a combination smoke and CO detector can be purchased. The main disadvantage to this type of monitor is often the lack of a digital readout which tells property owners how high the levels are in a particular area.

Photoelectric versus Ionization

Examine smoke detection packages to determine if they are either photoelectric or ionization devices. Besides price — ionization is lower — the way they detect smoke and fire is different. Ionization devices can fast-flaming fires quicker. Photoelectric smoke detectors are better with smoldering fires. It's best to purchase a variety of detectors to spread around a piece of property in order to detect both types of conflagrations, because a smoldering fire can quickly turn into a full-bore disaster.

Price

Many go for the least expensive model of smoke detector and batteries to protect their property. Unfortunately, sometimes cheaper can cost more when property is damaged after a detector fails to work or battery power isn't sufficient. To determine the best detectors within a certain price range consult with government safety offices or the local Fire Marshall to see what they recommend. A few dollars more may be the difference between safety and disaster.

READ MORE Baby Car Seats Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Local government regulations

• Size of child

• Convertible or expandability as child ages

• Quality of material types

• Number and types of security adjustments

• Mounting options and portability

• Standalone or part of a set

• Safety ratings

• Clear instructions for usage

• Ensure no recalls or other safety impacting announcements

Baby car seats are specially designed seats which are built with the goal of safeguarding children from injury in the event of a collision. They come in a number of form factors, such as rear-facing and forward-facing, and several different types of baby car seats will generally be required as a child grows older, taller and heavier.

The Starting Point for Buyers

The starting point for any baby car seat buyer involves consulting the specific laws about car seats in your state of residence. Around the world today, laws about this subject can vary significantly from one location or jurisdiction to another.

For example, in the State of Kentucky in the United States: Any child under 40 inches in height (3 feet 4 inches tall) must be in a child seat. Under seven years of age, if between 40 and 50 inches tall, the child requires a booster seat. And any child over age seven or over 50 inches tall (four feet 2 inches in height) does not require a specific seat type by law, but must be secured with a seat belt.

Other rules apply in other states, so it remains very important to double check all requirements with your local state patrol office before purchasing a child or baby car seat in order to ensure compliance. Additionally, as a general rule, you should never use a car seat that is 10 years or older in design. If you have children that span a wide range of years, it may be tempting to reuse seats over time; experts however advise that after a decade, the technology involved has become outdated and is an unnecessary potential risk. The safety features available for protective child seats changes frequently, and you will want the most safe and up-to-date options available.

The type of car seat you need will be determined by the child's age, height and weight and (if applicable) local laws. Baby car seats occur in several specific forms, and are geared towards very specific needs. Rear-facing seats are widely used for very young infants, but toddlers and older youngster have different requirements. Consider these general types of baby car seats:

• Infant car seats: Designed for the smallest, youngest children.

• Convertible car seats: Typically can be used as a rear-facing seat and then turned towards the front to assist toddlers.

• Three-in-one car seats: Serve as a rear facing seat for infants, a forward facing seat for toddlers and a booster for older children.

• Booster seats: designed for toddlers, or for toddlers and older youngsters.

In general, you should be looking for the highest quality seat that your budget will afford.

To make sure that you are buying a quality, safe seat, look for a seat which possesses these features:

• a high safety rating from consumer protection organizations

• clear instructions

• a seat that remains easily adjustable if it will accommodate different ages

• high quality construction

• a manufacturer who will update you as new safety announcements occur

There are many options out there available to you in this market, and this is a situation where going with the recognized brands may be a prudent choice. When it comes to the security of your child, you should always go with the safe choice and remember to emphasize high quality!

READ MORE Cell Phone Wallet Case Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Style of case – flip or ”slim“

• Type of materials & their longevity

• # of cards &/or cash you need to carry

• Built in stand – especially useful to watch movies etc on larger phones

How to choose a cell phone wallet

Today, almost everyone has a smartphone. Considering the price of new phones can range up around a thousand dollars, having the appropriate case for it seems like a smart investment. Most everyone also has a wallet or billfold of some sort. A cell phone wallet case can be a convenient way to keep your cell phone and wallet together in one easy to handle package.

Broadly, wallet cases can be divided into two categories. The first and more common type is a flip case. With this type of case, your phone would be on one side of the wallet, and your cash and cards would be in pockets on the other side, so that they press against each other when the case is closed. To access either, you would flip the case open either vertically or horizontally, as the name implies. Most models have a magnet to hold it shut, protecting both the phone and your cards/cash when not in use. The second type of wallet case is a slim wallet, which keeps your money and cards slotted against the back of the phone. As the name suggests, this is thinner than a flip case. However, it also lacks the protection that a flip wallet offers to the screen and your money when it is closed.

The type of wallet case you ultimately choose is best for you will directly influence the type of material options you have available. Generally, because it needs to be able to open and close, a flip case will be made out of a softer material. The most common are leather and faux leather, though there are some cloth bound models out there as well. On the other hand, a slim case will be made out of a harder material, such as plastic or in some cases aluminum or other metals.

A flip case will be better able to protect your phone and money, since when it is closed, both the screen and money are covered by the other, meaning that outside elements will be less able to damage them. However, this same characteristic makes them thicker and more bulky than a slim case. Since they are made of softer material, you can generally fit more cards into a flip case than a slim case. However, this will also make it very thick. Meanwhile, a slim case is indeed very thin, but because it is, and is also made of a hard, non-pliable material, you can only store about three cards and a few bills in one, which is important to consider if you have many credit cards or carry lots of cash. If you want a slim case as well as those, you will likely need a separate wallet for holding them anyways.

Many flip cases also have a built in stand as a feature, meaning that it will hold your phone at an angle in landscape orientation. Especially with today's larger phones, this can be a very useful feature; for example, you can put your phone on a table at a comfortable angle to watch movies or TV shows without having to fatigue your hand by manually holding it.

When buying a cell phone case, it's important to consider your own needs and use case to determine which case is best for you. Don't just buy the first one you see — this is protecting a device worth several hundred dollars!

READ MORE Athletic Socks Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of activity

• Materials

• Padding

• Fit

• Reinforcements

• Sock height

Choosing the Perfect Athletic Socks

Athletic socks cover a broad sock category, ranging from traditional white gym socks to high-tech specialty socks. Choosing the right socks to fit your feet and your needs will help your feet stay comfortable, dry, and free of blisters.

Type of Activity

Take into account what you'll be doing in the socks. Athletic or multisport socks typically have moisture-wicking fabric and padding designed for use in many different athletic activities. Socks made for running can range from thin liner socks with little padding to socks with thick padding on the heels and balls of the feet. Lightweight hiking socks are thin with a small amount of cushioning and wick away moisture, while midweight backpacking socks are thicker and have more cushioning. Mountaineering socks are the thickest athletic socks available and are designed for cold, rugged conditions. Socks designed for skiing and snowboarding have padding in the shin area.

Sock Materials

Performance fabrics wick away moisture to help your feet stay comfortable and dry. Merino wool features fine, itch-free fibers and regulate temperature. Synthetic materials can be blended and often provide better comfort and fit but can be less comfortable in hot temperatures. Ingeo is a corn-based alternative to polyester that wicks moisture and helps control odor. Silk is often used in liner socks. It is smooth against the skin and wicks moisture.

Padding

Padding can provide comfort and protection during athletic activities. When choosing athletic socks, check for padding at the heel and the balls of the feet. Make sure there is sufficient padding for comfort without changing the fit of your shoes.

Fit

Choosing the right fit for your foot is important. Check the product information for a size guide, which are typically based on shoe size. Try on the socks, paying special attention to the fit at the toe and heel. Socks that are longer or shorter than your feet will cause discomfort. For padded socks, check the fit in the shoe to make sure the padding won't make them too tight.

Reinforcements

Some athletic socks have the ability to provide arch support through a tighter or reinforced weave. Socks with arch reinforcement can be used in conjunction with insoles or shoes that provide arch support.

Height

How tall a sock is can largely come down to personal preference or style, but in some cases it's quite important. When matching athletic socks to taller shoes, such as hiking boots, the socks should be tall enough to offer protection from rubbing and abrasions at the top of the boot.

Take the time to find the socks that are right for your activity, your feet, and your shoes to ensure that your feet stay comfortable, dry, and blister-free.

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Sport Bra Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Activity engaged in

• Chest size

• General sized (S, M, L) or tailor made to cup & band size

• Compression vs encapsulating

• Material type – moisture wicking capabilities

• Fit and Adjustability

• Form – underwire, band, racer back, etc.

Sports bras: They are not all created equal

Sports bras are essential for any type of activity where movement is involved. Whether you are participating in yoga or running or anything in between, a good, supportive sports bra is crucial for a woman's comfort during exercise.

There are many things to look for in the sports bra that is right for you and right for the activities you are involved in. You will need to first decide on several specifics based upon your preferences:

1. Do you need a high-impact sports bra, which is helpful when participating in activities such as running or circuit training?

2. Do you need a compression sports bra, encapsulation sports bra, or something in-between? A compression sports bra is usually best for women with a smaller chest and keeps the breasts pressed against the body, while the encapsulated sports bra is like a normal bra which separates the breasts to protect and support them separately.

3. Would you rather have a bra that is more tailor-made? Women with larger sized breasts often find that selecting a sports bra that is the exact cup and band size is much more comfortable and supportive than sports bras with a generic small, medium, large, and extra large size. However, if you have a smaller chest, finding a sports bra that comes in the general sizes may fit your needs better than a customized size.

4. Would you like to have a sports bra that has adjustable straps or straps of one size? What about underwire or a racer back sports bra?

One non-negotiable aspect of a sports bra is that it needs to be made of a synthetic material which easily wicks away moisture. Cotton sports bras do absorb moisture, but do not allow for the moisture to escape away from your body. Another reason to head towards the sports bras that wick moisture is to prevent against chaffing and irritation. With high-intensity workouts and exercise, chaffing can occur, and wearing a sports bra made of a synthetic material and a compressed, but comfortable fit can help prevent any irritation. This is why it is best to look for a sports bra with moisture wicking technology.

Once you have decided on the specifics, now is the time to narrow down the options for the best sports bra for you. Sports bra shopping oftentimes includes much trial and error. Take some time to go in and have someone at a sporting goods or department store help you find the specific details you are looking for in a sports bra and try them on. One thing to keep in mind is that a sports bra should generally last as long as a pair of running shoes, which is about one year. But depending on the wear and tear and frequent laundering, a sports bra may need to be replaced in as little as six months. So you may need to consider buying more than one sports bra at a time.

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Yoga Pants Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Purpose for wearing

• Ease of care and cleaning

• Moisture wicking capabilities

• Material

• Appropriate fit

• Opacity when stretched / worn

• Style

What are yoga pants? Generally speaking, they are tight, long legged pants that are made of a material flexible enough to allow its wearer a free range of motion to perform yoga exercises. This type of pants is also worn by practitioners of various forms of other energetic exercise due to their extreme adaptability. Yoga pants are also rapidly replacing blue jeans as casual wear for women, especially in urban areas. Given this garment's versatility and increasing popularity, what are some things potential buyers should know before purchasing their own?

Price

While some boutiques and high-end retailers sell yoga pants at prices reaching $100, a pair of good yoga pants certainly need not cost that much. Most retailers sell these pants, with good quality, at a much more reasonably priced $30-$60 range. Ultimately, what is paid depends on the "name" of the brand and manufacturer, rather than extra perks included by the manufacturer.

Ease Of Care

As with other clothing, the better yoga pants are cared for, the longer they'll last the purchaser. "True" yoga pants are made of a synthetic fiber that is moisture "wicking", meaning that it moves perspiration away from the body. While these pants don't require dry cleaning, some extra care is required when laundering them. They should only be washed with similar fabrics, and washers should be careful that these pants aren't exposed to the hooks, zippers, etc. on other articles of clothing in the machine to avoid snags, rips, and pulling. Use little detergent and no fabric softener, as this damages material fabric. Wash in the cold water cycle. The pants fabric will last longer and shrink less if air-dried, but occasional machine drying at a low setting does little harm.

Ease Of Use

Yes, the style is a painted-on look, but these pants should never be so tight that it's not possible to move, bend over, or lift legs without great discomfort or pain. Tingling in extremities is never a good sign, as it does indicate that the pants are having a negative impact on circulation. Try some bending and other active moves in your new pants to ensure a good fit & don't be afraid to return an item that isn't right. Examine the pants for durability and material type too. Remember, you're looking for a wicking fabric for exercise.

Adaptability

Despite the name, yoga pants are appropriate for kick boxing, aerobics, martial arts, Pilates, and just lazing around the home. Under the right circumstances, these pants can also be used for general daytime wear. If you will be using them in this fashion, you may want to splurge and get pricier, better quality pants, which should never be too tight or too baggy in the posterior section. Upper garments should also not be too baggy and fitted T-shirts and sweaters are fine. Footwear should be comfortable and casual, like lowed heeled sandals or athletic shoes. And remember that no matter how nice those yoga pants are, they're still not an acceptable garment for an evening out.

Yoga pants are a great addition to any active wardrobe, and if you stick to the guidelines above you should have no problem finding the right pair for you!

READ MORE Baby Beds Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Safety features

• Sturdiness

• Weight

• Safety Standards compliant and certified

• Crib slats

• Corner posts

• Mattresses

• Fixed side-rails

• Frame and snug mattress fit

• Any past recalls or warnings

Baby beds come in different sizes, styles, and colors. When shopping for the right bed for your baby, there are several important factors to consider.

First you want to consider the safety features with each bed. Babies roll around in their beds and can sleep in the strangest positions. When your baby gets old enough they start to roll over and crawl, it is important to ensure the baby cannot fit their head through the wooden slats on the crib. If the baby can fit their head through the wooden slats, rethink the style of crib you are purchasing or buy the crib guards to place around the inside of the crib until your child gets older. Another consideration along these lines is the sizing of any mattress pad; ensure a tight fit between the pad edge and the crib walls so that there is no chance a body part could get stuck in there and your child injured.

Babies outgrow their cribs at a fast rate, so buying a bed that can be converted into a toddler bed will save you both time and money in the future. These cribs generally will come with a changing table that will be attached to the crib and they can later be used as a headboard for the toddler bed. Convertible styles of bed usually come in various different colors of wood, though sometimes other materials will be used. They are usually very durable and well worth the money spent.

Other options of baby beds include the traditional cradle. The cradle is a small baby bed that rocks back and forth to aide the baby in sleeping. This style of bed is useful for newborns that still need to sleep close to their mother. The solid frame and sides are in a compact, lightweight design so it is portable anywhere the baby goes.

The cost of the baby beds can vary widely. Several factors that effect the cost is the size of the bed, style of the bed, if it is a convertible bed, character bed, or a standard bed, and if you buy online or through the retail store. Sometimes the manufacture website will have a coupon available to print off and use at the store. Other times manufacture website will have promotion codes to print off and use at the online checkout for the product.

This is an important purchasing decision, so if you have any questions at all, there are customer service representatives knowledgeable of each product and will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

READ MORE Pots & Pans Set Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of cooking

• Material

• Weight

• Ease of cleaning

• Ease of maintenance

• Handle material

• Lid type and visibility

• Individual pieces or full set

• Volume capacity

• Non-stick options

A great set of pots and pans is critical in setting up a good effective kitchen for you and your family. The first thing to take into consideration is how often will you be cooking with your pots and pans.

Are you a grilled cheese chef or do you cook dinner every night for a family or someone special? Keep this thought in mind and you will have no problem in finding a great set that will fit your cooking needs.

A good weight to your pots and pans will usually represent durability, and will usually help prevent your food from burning. A lighter option is more often than not going to require more attention and could result in a lot more sticking of food to the pan, non-stick coating notwithstanding.

Pots and pans with copper bottoms can be very expensive, but are durable with care and have a great appearance in the kitchen. The usage of copper creates the benefit of an even cooking surface that makes for perfect browning of food.

You may choose to go with all stainless steel, for both convenience and overall quality as well as to match many of the kitchens today. These are great sets but can be very difficult to keep clean. They are durable and made to last but most are not Teflon coated to prevent sticking.

Lastly, there are good old cast iron pots and pans. Still used today by many chefs at home & professionally, a good set of these will last you a lifetime. They require more maintenance than other pans, with the necessity of seasoning them and keeping them dry to avoid rust. However, although a bit more work, the food will have a one of a kind taste that you can only get with cast iron. Sometimes you will get a little black or grey color transferred to food but that is just extra iron and part of the charm.

When you are shopping for your new pots and pans keep in mind primarily how you cook and what your needs are. By going online and spending a little time researching, you will find many reviews on products in a variety of price ranges. Find your price range, know your cooking habits, and you will help ensure to get the very best possible pots and pans set that you can for your money.

READ MORE Dishwasher Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Capacity

• Self heating element

• Dimension of washer & placement fit

• Eco-Friendly and energy star compliance options

• Different cycle and temperature options to match the items being washed

• Noise level

• Door access options – sliding or hinged

• Adequate drainage

• Ability to modify or arrange the shelves and inserts to accommodate different types of items to be cleaned

• Aesthetic design – stainless steel, color match, or hidden

Dishwashers come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and options. The key to purchasing the correct one for your home or business is fully understanding the jobs that the washer will need to do, as well as the importance of the style aspect.

The first point to look at will be the physical dimensions of the space where the unit is going to be fit. This, along with the necessary access to plumbing both for water in as well as adequate drainage, will answer many of the questions for you in advance of doing any research at all.

Once you have determined the size and capacity of the washer, you can now move on to which options are of importance to you in decreasing order so that you can maximize your budget when it comes time to make a purchase.

Depending on how often you run the washer, as well as what options you use (temperature being the main culprit), the costs can really add up. Even if you run in non-peak hours, the electricity costs can grow quite high. Regardless if you are doing it for eco-friendly reasons or not, you may want to look into an eco-friendly unit for the cost savings that they can bring over time.

Design elements are of varying importance to individuals, but if this is something that you will be looking at every day, you will want to get something that is pleasing or at the very least not disruptive. Stainless steel is always a good choice, though there are color matched options as well as models designed to be essentially hidden from view. Simply pick which route works best for you.

The keys to successfully purchasing a new dishwasher are to know the size you need, decide what features are important to you and to pick a budget to work within. Once you start looking, you will be amazed at the choices available and answering these questions gives you a great jumping off point for your search.

READ MORE Ceiling Fan Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Space the fan is meant to function in – is it high volume or low

• Blade span of the fan – will it fit in the space allocated

• Number of blades – negligible in higher quality fans, but possibly a factor in cheaper units

• Blade material type – choose both for style but also longevity

• Speeds and varying direction

• Remote control – wired or hardwired

• Quality of motor and hinge – noise level & smooth action

• Integrated light fixture, or not

• Indoor / Outdoor model as per location

Buying the Right Ceiling Fan the First Time

Ceiling fans are attractive accents, as well as impressive cooling tools for inside and outside of your home. They are in different styles, sizes, colors, and materials.

Functionality

Ceiling fans can help lower your energy bills. In the summer, using them (counter-clockwise direction) with an air conditioner will allow you to set your thermostat at a higher temperature. The room will feel cooler because the fan is creating a refreshing breeze. During the winter (clockwise rotation), it re-circulates the warm air that is near the ceiling, down into the living space.

Size

Ceiling fan size is measured by the “blade span” (the area from tip to tip of the two blades straight across from each other). Smaller blade spans are appropriate for utility rooms, bathrooms, and breakfast nooks. Kitchens, dining rooms, and bedrooms can have larger fans. Blade spans typically range from 29″ to 60″ or greater. The 60″ blade span is for spaces more than 350 square. ft. Measure the room where you plan to install the ceiling fan to assure you have the fan for your needs.

Blades

Fans are available with three, four, five, up to nine blades. Advancements in design have made the difference in the number of them versus performance, negligible. Blade pitch, (its angle), determines how much air the fan circulates in the room. Between 12 and 15 degrees is the ideal pitch.

Plenty of options are available for choosing the appearance and substance of your blades.

Some of the materials available include:

• Clear acrylic

• Smoked acrylic

• Fabric

• Solid wood

• Plywood

Available finishes include:

• Faux granite

• Colors

• Oak

• Cherry

• High luster

• Reversible

The shapes and sizes of the blades include:

• Wide

• Leaf-like

• Oval

• Straight

• Flower pedal-shaped

Quality

The cost can range from under $50.00 to several hundred dollars, based on their quality. Fan motors listed by Underwriters Laboratories or a similar type of agency, are good quality motors. Other features of a quality fan include:

• Moves quietly

• Moves smoothly

• Constructed with high-grade material

• Well designed pieces

• Appealing finishes

Inexpensive and poorly built fans tend to wobble and have a hum. The motor should not require lubrication because the bearings should be sealed.

Room Placement

The recommended placement of ceiling fans is the center of a room. The blade tips should be far enough away from walls and ceilings that slope, to allow for maximum movement of air (a minimum of 24 inches). If you mount your fan on a high ceiling, a fan with a remote control would be beneficial.

Styles

Ceiling fan designs accommodate every taste. There are fans that are mounted flush to the ceiling or hang from a drop rod. Fans are available with and without lights. The blades and the lights range from traditional to contemporary. There are energy saving designs and remote control designs.

Outdoor ceiling fans

Outdoors, ceiling fans can help move hot air, from patios, decks, or gazebos, just as they do indoors. Check to be sure that the one you choose is safe for outdoor conditions.

READ MORE Home Flashlight Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Power source

• Brightness desired

• Beam width (flood vs narrow or variable)

• Weight

• Portability

• Power consumption / battery life

• Potential use in self-defense

• Storage space required

• Durability and material type (plastic vs metal casing)

Technology comes and goes, but few things come in handy during an emergency like a flashlight. Flashlights are a home necessity, although it is difficult to predict when you will need one, so shopping ahead of time and being prepared is key. There are literally thousands of models and price points in flashlights nowadays, so selecting the right flashlight for your household can be more difficult than ever if you let it be. Here are some factors to consider before you start shopping around.

The biggest development in flashlights recently is the onset of LED technology, which gives flashlights brighter light more efficiently than the old-fashioned tiny light bulbs ever could. While an LED flashlight is usually still more expensive than the traditional models, it will typically last much longer and deliver much better light in a smaller package.

Most flashlights are designed to be handheld, although headlamps are a good choice for mechanics, athletes, and generally anyone that wants to leave both hands free. Since you will want as much light as possible during an emergency, you should aim for the largest size flashlight your space will allow (large, metal flashlights can even be used to ward off an attacker if necessary - just ask a police officer). LED flashlights come in pen-sized models which are perfect for keeping in a handbag or briefcase, and even keychain models, which help those of us that struggle to get the house key into the keyhole at night.

It's always a good idea to stow a flashlight in your vehicle as well, especially if you make long-distance trips or drive at night. You might consider a flashlight with a flashing setting (also known as a signal setting), to increase your visibility to other drivers if you become stranded on the roadside or have to change a tire. If you are a boater or a plumber, consider investing a little more in a flashlight designed for water resistance.

Whichever model you select, make sure you have the batteries it requires on hand at all times. Calendar a day every 3-6 months to test all of the flashlights in the house and your battery supply, so you are prepared for whatever comes your way.

READ MORE Beach Chair Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Portability

• Reclining options

• Built in storage

• Materials

• Ease of cleaning

• Ease of setup

• Storage space needed when not in use

Beach chairs are made in all sorts of different materials, sizes and functions. Some chairs generally lumped into this category are made for backpacking, and can include expanded storage for campers and hikers in an easy to transport form. More often they are designed to simply fit into the trunk of a car or bed of a truck for easy transportation. Most all beach chairs fold in some manner making storage easy; in general they are also lightweight, made from sturdy aluminum, though the design and fabric stretched across that frame will vary widely. A good rule is to look for a material that is washable but also durable, as they will be exposed to the extremes of the beach sand, sun, and salt water.

Here are only a few of the different styles you have to choose from:

• Backpack

• High back

• Folder chair

• Recliner

• Hammock

• Umbrella

• Canopy

The folding chair mat combination is a nice chair, designed in bright colors. Beach chair buying guide suggestions show chairs with a variety of sitting positions. The standard chair has one position but the more luxurious styles have anywhere from 3 to 5 positions. A sports chair has dual supports, very much like a director's chair, and a small table, and it folds, convenient storage. Another unique chair is the bench. This beach chair has multiple chairs attached to one another.

Added accessories are clamps for umbrella attachments, cup holders and places for items a user might want to keep close, sunscreen, sunglasses and the like. Carry straps are attached to chairs, making them easy to carry. Some beach chairs are equipped with coolers along side and under the chair.

Higher end, and pricier, models can come equipped with headrest and different positions as a means of resting the back. If you are looking for an even tan, you may want a chair that fully reclines – allowing you to lay down completely flat if that is your wish.

Usually made of cotton, canvas materials, synthetic blends or mesh fabrics, beach chairs are designed in a wide range of styles and usage. In terms of covering, you may want to look into a chair that has removable fabric stretched over the frame for easy cleaning. Another option is to go with a synthetic blend, which will be sturdier and can generally be cleaned without any need for removal. You will find that frames can range from wood to metal, with the most common being aluminum tubing due to its resilience and light weight.

There are chairs that sit low to the ground, practically right in the sand and others that elevate you to protect from changing tides and the ability to sit more fully up. Each style chosen should suit your needs; most prefer a chair that fits into the car easily, ready for concerts in the park or a day at the beach.

Though this guide is entitled beach chairs, these useful items may be found anywhere. You can use these handy chairs any where additional seating is needed, be it family picnics, fishing docks, boats, backyard barbecues, community meetings, or an outdoor concert.

Ultimately, with the huge range of options available out there – budget in hand, you can easily find the perfect chair for whatever need may arise.

READ MORE
Bed Mattress Pads Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size

• Thickness

• Fitted or not

• Type of cushioning technology

• Heat retention or dispersion

Mattress pads make for a more enjoyable sleeping experience for anyone in need of good rest. Many people have back problems and deal with what can be over time, crippling sleep disturbances each night. A simple bed mattress pad will keep people from turning around at night and/or make for a more restful sleep in general. It takes a little preliminary research to understand the different options available for mattress pads, but it is time well invested. Shoppers should find a reputable sales team that can bring people up to speed if you are compressed for time and not inclined to do your own research.

Be Choosy When Looking For Fitted Pads

A bed mattress pad needs to be carefully sized to fit the existing frame. Most will come labeled as twin, queen or king and specifically fit a given size. It may take some forethought to choose the right bed mattress pad for a frame already in a given room. Bed and pad sets are often sold together through different stores and can offer an easy solution when it comes to ensuring compatibility.

Look Around For Affordable Options

Purchasing packages of bed mattress pads will be a great way to find savvy deals. If you are not in a rush to buy, some packages will be generally be marked down during the sales events that happen as new models are introduced, and can be a great way to save a few dollars. As you find yourself in the market, pay careful attention to the newspaper and onine for deals that focus on shopping purchases through select locations.

Find The Best Color Scheme

Getting color-coded pads are a readily available option for anyone concerned with room decor and ensuring a good match. There are sites that showcase distinctive color sets, as well as varied different patterns if that is of interest. Shoppers need to focus on locating high quality fabrics, but they can make some exceptions for choices that simply look good if that is the primary concern. Online retailers often showcase their best options for those hoping to score a good deal, but usually with some limitations; if you have flexibility in terms of color or style, getting a geat deal becomes a much easier process. Shopping online brings about its own challenges, of course, but they may be met by a little research ahead of time.

At the end of the day, most pads are stretchy and will ultimate work & expand to the framework of any bedding. Mattresses pads should be tight and well fitted - this will help increase their useable lifetime as well as positively affect the overall quality of sleep. Good luck!

READ MORE
Carry-on Luggage Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Airline regulations

• Carrying space / dimensions needed

• Material types (leather / synthetic / metal)

• Zipper quality

• Rolling or non-rolling

• Expandability into a matching set

• Hard case or not – content protection

• Ease of cleaning

• Frame type and material

There are so many options to weigh and consider when shopping for new luggage. For many people, carry-on luggage is the most crucial piece of gear in their travel arsenal. Below, find a carry-on luggage buying guide to help you make sense of materials, styles and important size considerations.

Fabric Vs. Leather

Durable ballistic nylon fabric is a popular choice for all types of luggage. It stands up to rough handling and years of use, and is often water-resistant. These are desirable traits for both checked and carry-on bags. When choosing fabric luggage, check product labels or tags for the “denier count”. The word denier refers to the size of the fabric thread used to make the bag; the higher the number, the tougher the material.

Leather is also a great choice for carry-on bags. Leather gets marked up fairly easily, so stick with tough nylon for your checked luggage, but feel free to splurge on a sturdy, supple leather carry-on piece with straps. It will still eventually show wear, but with proper care, it will look great on your arm for years to come.

Hard Cases

Hard-shell aluminum rolling bags are gaining popularity for their protective qualities. However, consider that these bags will not have any "give" should you need to wedge them into narrow overhead bins or the trunk of your car.

Size Matters

The whole appeal of carry-on luggage is that you can, well, carry it on the airplane with you. Nobody wants to carefully pack their carry-on full of their most prized or important possessions only to be told they have to check it at the gate.

Airlines set their own size limits, so what is cabin-approved for one trip may not work the next time you travel. A common size guideline is 22 x 14 x 9, but your best bet is to check size limits for the top five carriers you are most likely to use over the next several years, and make your purchase based on the most restrictive limit.

Frames, Wheels And Handles

Besides the material the bag is made from, the frame, wheels and handle are the most important parts of a carry-on bag. Try to avoid inexpensive bags with plastic frames if you are looking to get year after year of use out of your new luggage. These frames tend to break rather easily and are not usually practical to repair. Honeycomb PVC frames are a lightweight and durable frame option; though they are plastic, their design ensures they can take a beating without snapping and rendering your bag useless.

Look for a carry-on that has a sturdy handle that extends to a comfortable walking position and wheels that spin in all directions freely. Choosing a bag with fixed wheels might save you a few dollars, but if you travel frequently, it's well worth the investment to have 360-degree spinner wheels that go exactly where you need them to go.

READ MORE
Outdoor Table Set Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Environmental factors (intense sun, snow, pooling water)

• Material

• Shape

• Number of seats required & ability to add/subtract

• Resilience/quality of material

• Ability to buy matching pieces (including additional seats)

• Weight of set (important in high wind areas)

• Ease of cleaning

• Ongoing maintenance necessary

• Stylistic match for home and environs

Buying the perfect outdoor furniture

The right outdoor table set can provide you with years of enjoyment. Such sets typically will reflect your personal style, but it's also important to choose outdoor furniture with some specific considerations in mind. This will help your furniture to fit both your lifestyle and the environment you're putting it into.

First, consider the general style and purpose of your table set. If you want something small, maybe just a place to set a cold drink or two, a bistro table is a good choice. Oval or square tables are generally bigger and have enough space for four to six people. If you want to have room for a bigger group, rectangular tables typically have room for six to 12 people.

Note that the above table sets typically come with a minimum number of matching chairs. If you want extra chairs, make sure that you can get what you need before making your final selection.

The material that a table set is made from is also very important. Pick a material that has the look you want, but also give some thought to how it's going to stand up to the conditions in your yard. Choosing the wrong material can greatly shorten the lifespan of your outdoor furniture.

Plastic

Outdoor table sets made of plastic or of PVC (poly-vinyl chloride) are generally lightweight, portable, and affordable. Keep in mind that plastic and PVC both have some drawbacks, one of which is that the colors fade in the sun over time, so they won't have that new look year after year. They may also become brittle after two or three years and may need to be replaced, and they are not always suitable for larger people.

Metal

Several different metals are commonly used for outdoor furniture. Each of these has different properties. Aluminum is a lightweight, non-rusting metal that is often used for outdoor furniture, so it's good even in areas with a lot of rain, though the hinges and other connections may rust if not protected. Steel is heavier and more durable than aluminum, but even stainless steel may rust of not protected. Wrought iron is a much heavier metal, but is very durable. It comes in many styles and resists rust, but only as long as you keep it painted.

Wood

Wooden outdoor table sets are fairly traditional and are usually made of eucalyptus, cherry, or teak, because these types of wood resist bugs and stand up well to the weather. You'll need to put a new layer of finish on your wooden furniture about once a year to keep it looking good.

Whatever type of outdoor table set you choose, make sure that it provides enough comfortable seating for you and your friends. In many areas you'll want to store your set indoors so that it lasts longer, and then put it outside when the good weather arrives. That's the time for a fresh coat of paint so you'll be ready to enjoy your yard all summer long.

READ MORE Garden Hoses Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Material type and non-toxic as appropriate

• Length

• Width

• Thickness of casing

• Attachment types

• Environment to be used & UV resistance

When trying to decide which is the best garden hose to buy, it may seem easiest to simply buy the cheapest one you find. Though garden hoses may look the same, the small differences can make a big difference in durability.

A quality garden hose should last approximately 5 to 10 years. Unfortunately, many homeowners opt to buy a less expensive garden hose and then have to replace it due to cracks and leaks. Even though it is possible to repair some of these issues, it is far better in the long run to buy a better quality garden hose as it will be less expensive over time.

LENGTH

When deciding which hose you need, the first step is to determine which length you will need. In general, garden hoses range from 25 to 100+ feet in length. You might think it is better to buy a longer hose and use it for all of your watering needs, but in reality, it may be more of a hassle than you bargained for. Longer hoses are much heavier than shorter ones. Furthermore, longer hoses take a longer amount of time to drain before storing away for the cold winter months.

DIAMETER

As with length, width is important as well. The diameter of your garden hose should be specific for what type of work you will be using it for. For example, if you are going to be using it to pressure wash, you need to buy one that have a wider dimension for increased flow. Garden hoses that are smaller in diameter are lighter and easier to use, but sacrifice usefulness in many situations. Garden hoses that are up to one-half inch in diameter are usually around 50 feet in length and are more perfect for light-duty gardening activities.

MATERIAL

Garden hoses are generally made of rubber or vinyl. The difference is the quality of the rubber. The basic vinyl garden hose is prone to kinks, which then makes it more prone to cracks as well. If these types of hoses are left in the sun too long, they degrade rapidly.

Rubber hoses are more expensive, but the quality is much higher. These types of hoses are able to be used for hot water and can also be left outside.

Finally, be sure to never drink from a garden hose as there are chemicals inside that can poison you. Additionally, if you want to use a hose to give your pet ager, be sure to invest in a specific type of hose that is chemical free and safe to use.

READ MORE
Indoor Pots/Planters Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size of plant

• Ease of cleaning

• Moisture proofing and sweating

• Material type

• Ease of repotting

• Space needed for pot / planter

• Style

Indoor pots and planters are available in many different types of materials, styles and colors. Of course any container that will hold dirt and your plant can be used as a planter, but purchasing one that is designed for this purpose will ensure the health of your plant.

When choosing a planter there are a few things that you need to take into consideration. The size of the plant that will be going into the pot and how much growth is to be expected will determine the size of the planter you should purchase. Choosing a planter 2-3 times larger than the pot the plant comes in is recommended, unless you plan to re-pot as it grows. Some plants, like succulents, have shallow roots, so you can purchase a planter that is not very deep and still be ok. If you are planting a small tree or a very large plant, you should definitely consider getting a pot that has rollers attached to it. This will enable you to move it easily if you choose to relocate it to another area, or want to make your cleaning chores that much easier.

Another important factor to consider is where you will be actually placing the plant. Make sure that the planter you purchase will fit in the space that you will be putting it, and makes sense in terms of upkeep. If it is going to be on the floor or another surface that could be damaged by water, make sure your pot comes with a saucer to protect the surface from moisture. Some planters come with a water reservoir, which is recommended if you occasionally leave for extended periods or aren’t the most diligent in watering.

Prices are dependent on the size of the pot and the material that it is made of, and will vary widely. Planters made of plastic or polyresin are light weight and usually less expensive. They often represent a great value that can give you the look of a more expensive container, for a fraction of the cost. These planters are also very durable and can usually be dropped or knocked over without breaking. For an average sized houseplant, you can expect the cost to run between 20 and 40 dollars on average. Terra cotta pots are very simple, less expensive, and give you an organic look - there is usually a limited color choice available. They run 10 to 30 dollars, but will leak moisture to the surfaces around them ad are prone to breakage.

Ceramic pots will give a higher-end look, along with higher prices, can cost anywhere from around 40 to hundreds of dollars. As noted, both terra cotta and ceramic planters are breakable and do not fare well in extreme temperature changes.

READ MORE
Outdoor Fire Pits Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Space required

• Material type

• Ease of cleaning

• Weight

• Heat output

• Spark shields

• Gas or wood/coal burning

If you are searching for a new fire pit to add to your backyard or patio, you probably already know that it can be a daunting task. With hundreds of online retailers and home improvement stores, it is often difficult to know where to start your search. Narrowing down your search criteria is one way to make the selection process a bit easier on you. Here are some suggestions to think of before beginning your search, and instead of spending time trolling through the internet, you will be spending time with your friends and family.

With hundreds and possibly even thousands of different designs available, you should be able to find the perfect one for your needs if you know what you’re looking for. Fire pits come in pretty much all shapes and sizes and can be fueled by wood or gas in residential settings. If you live in areas with high pollution, or areas that have burn restrictions, a gas fire pit will be your best bet. Gas burns clean and gives off very little airborne pollutants. Now, if you happen to live in an open area where smoke will not be a problem, then nothing beats the sound of a crackling wood fire.

Choose a specific area for your outdoor fire pit before your search begins, and be sure to check the dimensions before purchasing to ensure it will comfortably fit where you. Matching the design to your outdoor patio decor will improve the aesthetic value of your patio area, and ultimately your home. Aesthetics are important but you also need a sturdy, well-built a fire pit that's going to get the job done. Most are built to last, so finding solid construction should not be difficult.

Now if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly design, a few manufacturers have begun producing copper fire pits made from recycled copper. Copper fire pits are great because they radiate heat very well and are extremely durable. They come with deep bowls that will allow you to stoke your fire to keep you and your guests warm all night long. Great for outdoor entertaining, no matter if few or many, the enjoyment you get out of it will last for years to come.

One should also take a look at the accessories and add-ons available, as that could end up an important consideration down the road. For example, many fire pits include a spark screen. A spark screen can be a valuable and sometimes necessary safety feature designed to hold floating embers at ground level.

Keep these tips and suggestions in mind to help with your search for your new fire pit and you should be well on your way!

READ MORE Women's Handbag Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size of bag

• Carrying capacity

• Material type

• Purpose of bag / types of items conveyed

• Type of handle / strap

• Enclosures

• Stitching

• Sturdiness

• Manufacturer warranty

• Style

It is the item most women are never without - the purse. Handbags or purses are so ubiquitous all over the world that there are literally thousands of models to choose from at every price point imaginable. Most women will own many handbags during the course of a lifetime. If you are looking for your next purse, the selection can be overwhelming. Here are some things to think about before you buy to help you streamline the buying process:

Many women have a definite preference for the type of handle their purses have. Women that like to have their hands free should look for a shoulder bag or cross body style, or even a backpack style purse. These models are perfect for mothers of small children and shopping trips that will require carrying more items than just a purse. Purses with shorter handles and clutches are meant to be carried in the hand and are more practical for ladies who have simpler travels ahead.

Size is very important since most women have their own selection of items they carry in their bags from day-to-day. Many ladies prefer a small purse while others prefer a larger bag. Lifestyle is often a determinant of handbag size: mothers and women that need specialized items in their careers benefit from large purses, as do women that want to carry their tech devices in their purses as well.

Finally, a bag's material is important as well. Sturdy materials like canvas and nylon are good choices for active women and long-distance travelers. Leather provides longevity and many times looks better with age, provided that it is properly cared for. Color can be important as well, since light and pastel colors show dirt and stains more easily than dark colors and many patterns.

Many higher-end manufacturers offer warranties on their handbags, offering to repair or replace the purse if the construction fails. While this is an attractive option for women who like to use one bag over the course of many years, it is not a concern for women who change bags often and like to keep up with trends each new season.

READ MORE External Hard Drive Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Capacity needed

• Connector type and speed

• Drive speed

• Longevity (solid-state vs spinning media)

• Portability

• Power needs

• Size

• Noise

• Configurable options (RAID, etc)

• Bundled software

Tips for Buying the Right External Hard Drive

External hard drives are available in various styles and sizes, which can overwhelm and confuse some consumers, but a basic understanding of hard drive technology will make it easier to choose the right drive for one's needs and budget. An informed buyer defines his or her standards for the device's hardware, storage capacity, and connection speed, as well as price point before heading to the technology store.

Basic Types of Desktop Hard Drives: Spinning Disk versus Solid-State Drive (SSD)

External hard drives come in a range of sizes, storage capacities, and hardware configurations. An individual who needs a large amount of storage space for his or her home or office may be happier with a desktop-style external drive, which offers more storage capacity than a portable drive. Desktop drives are widely available, and they can hold up to 6 terabytes (TB) of data. The inner workings are similar to a computer's internal hard drive, so most have spinning disks and require separate AC power cords. If the drive will see continuous use, as with playing videos and music files, it is best to choose a model with its own internal fan. Prices for desktop drives can be as low as $40 and as exorbitant as $3000.

One can find external SSDs as well, but the price difference is steep. A 500 GB SSD may cost as much as $400, while one can buy a traditional drive with the same capacity for less than $60. However, some may prefer to pay extra to enjoy certain SSD benefits such as portability and durability. An SSD does not need a fan or a dedicated AC power source, which means it takes up less space and runs quietly. Since there are no moving parts in an SSD, it can withstand more shocks from falls and bumps, and SSDs require very little cleaning and maintenance. They also last longer than spinning disk drives, which wear out sooner due to the moving parts. SSDs are capable of faster transfer rates, but this feature is useless when paired with a standard USB 2.0 connection, so one's computer should have USB 3.0 and FireWire ports available to take full advantage of this benefit.

Portable Pocket Drives

If portability is a major concern, one can find very compact storage drives, often labeled as “laptop class” or “pocket” devices. These styles are powered via cable connections to a computer, most commonly USB 2.0 and 3.0. The average pocket drive is less than three inches long, small enough to fit in one's shirt or jacket pocket, purse, or briefcase. The USB connection makes this type of drive perfect for on-the-go tablet and laptop users.

Shopping for an external hard drive may seem overwhelming or confusing to some consumers, but it does not have to be an exercise in frustration. Once an individual establishes his or her price range, storage needs, desired portability and connection type, he or she can choose the perfect external hard drive with ease.

READ MORE
External Hard Drives Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Capacity needed

• Connector type and speed

• Drive speed

• Longevity (solid-state vs spinning media)

• Portability

• Power needs

• Size

• Noise

• Configurable options (RAID, etc)

• Bundled software

An external hard drive, unlike the usual hard drive found in your computer itself, this one actually attaches outside through a data or USB port. Some drives connect directly to your computer’s power supply, while other more heavy-duty units need an additional power cord and will come with their own cooling fan. These devices are larger than their internal counterparts and come fully enclosed in their own case for protection and transport. External hard drives have the ability to store large amounts of data and can serve as a backup drive for your computer.

The first thing to consider when choosing a hard drive is how much storage space you need, keeping in mind that size is money in this circumstance. If you simply need a portable space to store your occasional photos or song downloads, then 2GBs could potentially be enough. If you download a lot of videos, or you are a gamer, however, you will definitely need more storage.

Next, consider if you need your drive to be portable. Smaller units can be transported simply by unplugging from the USB port and can be locked in a drawer or cabinet for safekeeping if need be. Larger devices will give you more speed if you backup your computer often, but will cost you in portability. If information safety is a concern on any level, your new drive should come with encryption, this will help deny access to anyone who’s trying to view your data, documents, and information.

For those users who are not tech savvy, there are many drives that come pre-loaded with their own software for storage and backup. Once you plug it in, you will just have to follow the online prompts and then you will be ready to seamlessly use your new device. If you are unsure of what type of operating system you are using, go to the manufacturer’s site and enter the model code found on the back of your computer. This will tell you how much memory you already have and other pertinent information useful for when choosing a hard drive.

Lastly, make sure the drive you choose is physically compatible with your computer. With USB compatible hard drives, the ports can vary in size and may require a micro or mini connector. PC’s and laptops can be proprietary, with the biggest companies manufacturing external drives that work only with their models so a little research before buying is definitely recommended.

READ MORE Cuff Links Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Backing type desired

• Material (Steel, Silver, Gold, etc.)

• Ease of cleaning

• How formal the event or environment

• Whether or not customizations are required

Cuff links are worn by both men and women in place of cuff buttons on long-sleeved shirts with French cuffs. Cuff links are both functional and ornamental, and generally are purchased in jewelry stores or the jewelry section of department stores. In price they range from moderate to expensive, depending on quality, workmanship and materials.

There are several types of cuff links, but all consist of a decorative front, a backing to keep the cuff link in place and a small connector such as a short rod or piece of chain. Descriptive names indicate the type of cuff link: bullet back, toggle closure, whale back closure, fixed back, ball return and chain link, which is the original cuff link design.

Like other jewelry, cuff links should be chosen to suit the taste and personality of the man or woman who will wear them. They are available in a nearly unlimited variety of materials and styles, and in designs for special occasions, such as weddings, or themes such as sports or holidays. Finding the right pair will not be difficult.

When purchasing cuff links, either as a gift or for yourself, keep in mind the garment with which they will be worn. Cuff links and the shirts made to be worn with them are standardized, so fit is not an issue except possibly for vintage items. Check the openings on the shirt cuff to be sure. It should be about the same size as the buttonhole on the cuff of a regular shirt, which is about one-half inch. All cuff links of recent manufacture will easily fit any shirt designed for their use.

Cuff links can be very plain or very elaborate. Since they are essentially jewelry, they are made from gold, silver, platinum, or stainless steel and may be embellished with diamonds and other precious stones, glass, crystal, enamel or practically anything else. Some cuff links are designed to be personalized. The front of the link is plain and can be engraved with the wearer's initials or a significant date, for example.

If it is necessary to clean the cuff links, treat them as any other piece of jewelry. Wipe gently with a clean, soft cloth and if that is not sufficient, look for jewelry cleaner appropriate for the materials used in the cuff link. When not being work, cuff links should be stored carefully, ideally in their original box, so that they will not be damaged.

Cuff links are considered appropriate for formal occasions and dressy business attire. They add distinction and individuality to an outfit but do require a little extra time to select and put on while dressing. They typically are worn by people who are well-groomed, careful of their appearance and who pay attention to small details. A gift of cuff links says that the giver knows the recipient is a man or woman of taste and style.

READ MORE
Engagement Ring Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Band material

• Type of setting

• Type of stone and size

• Appropriate fit

• Ease of cleaning

• Hardness of materials

• Matching sets

Engagement Rings: A Brief Introduction

Engagement rings have been around for a long time. They are given to a significant other to symbolize a marriage, or upcoming commitment to one another. Getting an engagement ring is an exciting time. It means you've chosen this specific person to spend the rest of your life with, and you want the world to know.

How many of us feel comfortable shopping for an engagement ring? How many of us know what sort of guidelines to follow? This is a big investment. You are committing yourself to one person and one alone. With lack of experience and knowledge in this situation, you could end up putting out more money then you want.

Before you go to your local shop down the street, please consider the following:

THE BUDGET

This is a big one. This factor is also one that many salespeople use to make a sale. You have to the position and motivation of the salesgirl or boy; this is how they make their commission and they want that sale. We've all heard “the general rule of thumb is two months salary.” Do you have to stick with this? No, not necessarily, but do use it as a guiding point to start thinking though. This is a sneaky tactic the industry uses to trick guys into spending more money then they want. How do they do this? They use the price and equate it with love. This is how they make their sale.

Figure out how much you can afford and stick with it. It doesn't matter how many games they try to play, or what emotions they try to evoke; if you can't afford it, then don't buy it.

WHAT DOES SHE LIKE

Guys, I am sorry, but this is where you need to pay attention. Look at the jewelry your partner wears daily. Does she like silver? Is she more into gold? Take this knowledge and apply it to your purchase. Does she like modern and classy? Is she more into the bling-bling? Is she someone who doesn't like to make a big deal over it? Many girls like the understated look. This is where you have to plan. If you know this a head of time, you won't have any problems. If you go in unprepared, the sales girl or boy will take advantage of this. A highly-trained salesperson can read a desperate and uneducated husband-to-be a mile away. Don't be fooled.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT STONE AND SETTING

Though they are motivated to make the sale, it's good to ask the salesperson's opinion, this is why they are there and they often have great insight. Do your own homework first, of course. Look at the type of settings and stone qualities she likes. What kind of hints is she dropping? You have to pay attention here too.

ALWAYS BRING A BUDDY WITH YOU

This is the number one rule to follow. A jewelry store is a battlefield. You always have to be prepared. Bring someone you trust, someone who won't spill the beans.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Only go to a trusted and qualified store. Don't go to some second-hand shop, especially if you want to make it count. Don't invest in the fake stuff. Have an inspection done and always get everything in writing. If you plan ahead, the salesperson won't try their normal tricks and if they do then you will be prepared. Good luck and enjoy!

READ MORE Speaker Wire Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Distance from source to speaker

• Material (Walls, etc.) that the wire will run through – fire hazard

• Ohms rating of speakers

• Connector types necessary

• Wire insulation

• Wire material

Speaker wires are very confusing to buy for those who don't know what they're looking for. Here's a guide to help you purchase the correct speaker wire for your audio system.

What's a Speaker Wire?

A speaker wire is an insulated wire connecting speakers to the amplifier source. It's the wire that allows for sound to be outputted from the source. Picking the right wire will help with your audio quality and overall speaker performance.

Gauge

The gauge is measured by its American Wire Gauge number (AWG). This number measures the thickness of the wire. The smaller the AWG, the thicker the wire. Thick wires are ideal for long distances and high power equipment.

Ohms

Ohms measure the resistance an electric current encounters while flowing in a circuit. The longer the distance of a wire, the more resistance an electric current encounters. Thicker wires have less resistance than thin wires, so they're good for speakers that offer low ohms (4 to 6).

Distance

The next component you need to focus one when buying a speaker wire is how long you plan on running it. Measure the distance between the amplifiers and the speakers. If it is less than 80 feet (24 meters), then a 16-gauge wire should serve you well. If it's between 80 - 200 feet (24 - 61 meters), a 14-gauge wire will give you the best performance. If the distance between the amplifier and the speakers is over 200 feet (61 meters), you will need a 12-gauge wire.

Add a couple feet/meters to your measurements so you have a little slack and know the amount of speaker wire you need to buy.

Connectors or No Connectors

Banana connectors are the plugs on the end of the speaker wire that connects to the amplifier and speakers at both ends. Make sure to purchase wire with the connectors, or else you may have a tough time making your connections.

Walls, Underground, or Ceiling

Once you've found out what type of wire to buy, you need to figure out where you want to run your wire through. If you choose through the ceiling or the wall, you MUST pick speaker wire rated by the UL as CL2 or CL3. This is because these types of wires have been tested to be safe and certified by the UL. If they aren't certified, you could risk a fire in between your walls and ceiling. For underground wiring, it's recommended to get wire certified to be buried underground.

Wire Quality

The last thing to look for when buying a speaker wire is the build quality. If you're looking for a high-quality audio output, you need pure copper and a bigger gauge that squeezes every bit of audio to your speakers. Of course, just by following the guide above your sound quality to should be good enough to go.

Hopefully, this guide helped simplify the complicated process of buying a speaker wire. Good luck with buying and have fun with your audio system!

READ MORE Bath Towels Buying Guide

Bath towels are a necessity throughout homes and commercial facilities worldwide and come in a huge variety of colors and quality. Generally, the term "bath towel" refers to towels in the 25" x 50" size range, and just like it sounds like, are intended to absorb moisture. The fabric of bath towels may be composed of 100% cotton or can be a blend of cotton and polyester fabrics in most circumstances. In terms of functionality, one of the most important features to consider is the fabric weight. The heavier the fabric weight, the greater the absorbency will be; fabric weight is measured in grams per square meter (gms).

Other Important Features of Bath Towels

In addition to fabric composition and weight of bath towels, size is also an issue to consider. There is a difference in a bath towel and a bath "sheet." Bath sheets are one of the largest type of bath towels and are usually 35" x 70" in size. 100% cotton bath towels tend to feel fluffier and result in faster drying time. Look for bath towels with 460 gms for ultra-absorbency. Also, another aspect to be aware of is that the higher quality bath towels have zero thread twist construction. This feature prevents fabric snags during normal use.

Bath towels can be color coordinated or contrast with hand towels and wash cloths, depending on your particular style and needs. Sold in sets, bath towels are fairly uniform in color. Some of these towels have decorative edging or can be monogrammed, as preferred.

Toss, Tumble and Dry - Easy Maintenance

Bath towels are among the easiest household items to maintain, under normal use. Just toss them into the washer after use, tumble them in the dryer and they are back and ready to use. One suggestion to definitely pay attention to is to avoid storing damp bath towels in a hamper or enclosed bin. This will definitely increase the possibility of mildew and odors, and if you can, you should place damp bath towels on a drying rack before laundering. Bath towels are quite durable due to the high quality of the fabric generally used to weave them. One of the best of the best fabrics for towels is made from Egyptian cotton. It retains its shape and texture, dries quickly and has the fluffiest feel due to the high gms level in thread count. One other tip to consider is the dye factor in colors chosen. High quality towels are least likely to cause colors to run during laundering.

Highest Quality Bath Towels

Today, the most expensive bath towels are "designer" towels made by some of the top names in fashion and design. These are the most expensive, however, take a step back and compare before choosing; an expensive initial purchase price may translate into the longest lasting, most durable bath towels. Since bath towels receive heavy use daily, pay attention to these features as a guide before purchasing:

• Fabric weight (gms)

• Thread count

• Size

• Durability

• Maintenance

• Thread twist construction

• Color

READ MORE
Electric Blanket Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Safety ratings

• Type – fitted for a bed, or loose blanket style

• Size and dimensions

• Clear and useful controls.

• Material type and thickness/softness

• Ease of cleaning

Investing in an Electric Blanket

An electric blanket can be an investment that lasts for ten years, providing warmth and comfort during the winter months while lowering heating costs. It can also relieve pain caused by back problems or medical conditions affecting the joints and muscles.

When shopping for an electric blanket, you will find a huge range of prices, anywhere from $50 to $350. How will you decide what to buy? This buying guide will walk you through the features to consider in making your decision.

Safety

Uppermost in your consideration are the safety features of the blanket. You should look for either the UL or ETL mark, which mean that the product has been independently tested by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) and meet North American product safety standards. Another safety feature is the automatic shutoff that will turn the power off when a certain temperature is exceeded. The manufacturer’s instructions should be carefully read before use.

Size and Type

Electric blankets are used either as mattress covers to be slept on, or as a cover to be used like a regular blanket or comforter. You should decide which would suit your needs. Those that cover the mattress come either in fitted or unfitted form. The fitted blanket will fit snugly like a mattress pad whereas an unfitted blanket comes with ties to help keep them in place. The former will cost more. You should make sure that the blanket is the right size for your mattress.

Flat electric blankets or electric throw blankets are not sized for beds and can be used anywhere in the house. They are nice for keeping warm on the sofa or chair while watching TV. When used as a cover during sleep, consider the weight of the blanket.

Heating Controls

There are different heating control features, with more complex features adding to the cost.

• Detachable controls make it possible for you to remove them when laundering the blanket.

• Dual controls in a full size or larger blanket enables each person to adjust the heat level on his or her side of the bed.

• Programmable settings can be used to preset the time that the blanket will be heated.

• Adjustable heat controls make it possible to change settings as needed throughout the night.

• Controls with raised markings or with LCD screens make it possible to adjust settings in the dark.

Comfort

You will want to check on the material used and its thickness. It should be thick enough so that you don’t feel the heating elements. Most blankets are made of synthetic materials which are washable. A fleecy or quilted covering will be quite comfortable.

Some blankets also have separate feet heating zones for more warmth.

Cleaning

Check the manufacturer’s instructions on whether the blanket is machine washable and the specific instructions given. The blanket will need to have removable heating controls. The manufacturer will specify the type of detergent and machine settings. Dry cleaning is not recommended since the solutions used can corrode the heating elements.

Other Features

• Some blankets come with waterproofing, and these are suitable for children’s beds.

• A stain proof low voltage mattress pad would be suitable for those who want to sleep with a pet.

• Persons with poor grasping ability will be served by heating controls with large knobs or push buttons.

• Antibacterial fibers are used in some blankets that inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold.

READ MORE
Home Window Tint Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Manufacturer warranty

• Tint color and opacity

• UV rating

• Heat reflection / retention

• Scratch resistance

• Approval from different testing agencies

• Ease of removal

• Ease of cleaning

Window film can improve the look of windows, protect carpet and furniture from fading, or keep solar radiation from beaming infrared and ultraviolet rays through a glass pane. The type of application that is desired can lead to different types of home window tint. Listed are the layers to pay attention to when purchasing your film.

1. The Release Liner consists of thin clear sheet that protects the sticky or tacky side of the film. This ensures that the adhesive is dirt-free and ready to apply to the glass.

2. Under the adhesive layer of polyester film lies a chemically treated layer that may be metalized for heat rejection, or contain special dye for trapping UV rays from traveling through. This is also where any decorative designs are placed for making picturesque scenes.

3. A scratch-resistant liner follows this layer that protects your sandwiched lining from wear and tear of everyday use and indoor elements of dirt and dust.

Performance testing is an indicator that the film has merit in its stamina and meets industry standards. Look for ASTM, ASHRAE or AIMCAL approval in testing of different variations.

The warranty should not be less than 5 years on manufacturer defects of adhesive failure, bubbling, cracking, peeling or seal failure. Added applications such as decorative, solar controlled, and resistance to glass breakage should have a 25-year to lifetime warranty.

Since decorative film is subject to change as styles are updated, look for easy removal of film features, in addition to being scratch resistant and water resistant. A vinyl coating is recommended in this type of use.

Solar control films offer up to 80% sun ray blockage, making a room feel more comfortable and are beneficial in energy savings. Tinted exterior films of copper, bronze, silver, or gold, provide added protection and are aesthetic to a home's exterior.

Installation and Cleaning

When preparing to install a window tint, follow the instructions carefully to keep from voiding any warranties. Begin with a clean dry glass and do not become alarmed if small bubbles appear initially. These will even out as the drying process takes place. Never pull off and reapply due to an unnatural look. The film may take a few days to settle, depending on the amount of sun. Professional installation is suggested.

Do not clean the film for 30 days after installation. Only use a soft clean cloth with a small amount of detergent. Abrasive cleaners and supplies can scratch the surface.

READ MORE Car Stereos Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• All-in-one or separate head unit and amplifier

• Audio sources and compatibility

• Size of unit

• Power output and number of speakers

• Inputs (including Bluetooth, WiFi, and USB)

• Phone integration

• Touchscreen

• DVD & video output

• Ease of navigating user interface

• Adaptability and expandbility

A car stereo includes the receiver, speakers, amplifier, capacitors, and other components. Most people think of the receiver when they use the term "car stereo." This article will focus on how to choose the best after market car stereo. We will identify different receivers including everyday use, emerging technology and pricing.

The type of receiver you choose will depend on the audio sources you will use with the device. Always select a receiver based on your needs? Will you be using a CD player or a DVD player? If the car stereo you choose has a CD box in the trunk, the type of receiver you choose should have other inputs for other devices. A standard USB port will allow MP3 players, mobile phones and other hardware to interface with the stereo.

The receiver can also take advantage of technology such as streaming applications, Bluetooth, and WIFI. Pairing a mobile device can allow applications to stream Internet applications directly through the receiver. Bluetooth technology can accomplish this wirelessly. With the advent of safety laws in many states regarding cell phone use, choosing the correct receiver can allow your car stereo to become a hands free option. WIFI capabilities will allow the receiver to stream applications without the additional cost or need for another device. A standalone in-car WIFI service may cost an additional monthly or annual fee, so factor in this additional cost when making your final decision.

Satellite radio and GPS are also factors when considering a car stereo. Satellite radio has not risen to the level of functional usability many had hoped for, but there is still much more room for development for satellite stations to compete. GPS systems and navigators are also strong considerations to look at when selecting a receiver.

The user interface is also important, since this is how you will be interacting with your system on a daily basis. Receivers have advanced technology such as graphic user interface (GUI) touch screens. The touchscreen is navigated by directly selecting options, or buttons from the interface. Hardware knobs and buttons are replaced with virtual buttons and controllers powered by software.

It is important to factor in the receivers day-to-day use. Heavy users may opt for a traditional button and knob interface instead of a touch screen interface. Also, maintenance and cleaning of the car stereo is important to increase the life of the device. Durability and repair are other factors to think of when choosing a car stereo long term. The more technologically advanced the device is the more expensive it is to replace or repair.

Before purchasing a car stereo think of exactly how you will use this device. Many times there are features in more expensive devices you will never use & thus a deal can turn into a waste of money. At the same time, receivers without features such as input ports and Bluetooth can make your new device worthless in a future proofing sense. Finding the right balance for you in terms of lifestyle, compatibility, and budget will be the key in selecting the system that is right for you.

READ MORE Home Juicers Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of juice mechanism

• Construction material

• Ease of cleaning

• Frequency of use

• Volume of material to juice

• Size of material to juice

• Desire to reuse pulp

• Noise level

• Power requirements

• Adapters and add-on options

Fresh juices have grown in popularity in recent history. Whether it is for the suspected health benefits, or a preference for the taste, people have many reasons that drive them toward the juicing phenomenon. There comes a point where it makes more sense to purchase a juicer than to continue to visit juice shops, or buy expensive pre-packaged juices. This guide will help you better navigate your options.

How the Juice is Removed

There are two main types of juicers. The first involves cutting the fruits or vegetables into small pieces and spinning them to extract the juice. The fruits and vegetables do require preparation before they can be inserted into the machine, as large pieces must be precut, heavy skins or peels must be removed, and larger seeds or pits must be removed first. Generally a less expensive option, there is some debate that the heat generated from these models may also lessen the health benefits of consuming fresh juice. Additionally, they can be challenging to clean.

The second type, cold-press juicers, use pressure to extract the juice. Also called auger-type or mastication juicers, these crush and press the fruits and vegetables versus cutting them. It generates less heat than extraction juicers, but is notably more expensive. Most fruits and vegetables will require less preparation, though these machines are more likely to jam. More pulp is left in the juice as well, which some believe creates a healthier juice as it leaves more fiber.

Options and Accessories

The included features and accessories can vary between models. Some will come with a translucent container for the juice to flow. This makes it easier to see how much has been made compared to the opaque containers with other models. Further, some will come pre-marked with common measurements, making it easier to precisely collect juice for a recipe.

The ease of cleaning may be an important consideration. Not all come with dishwasher-safe parts. The difficulty to disassemble can also vary. In order to protect a machine when it is clean, some come with dust covers to keep dirt out between uses.

If you are looking to lower prep time, you may want to find a model with an extra large chute. This means the machine is designed to handle larger pieces of fruits and vegetables, requiring less work before placing the items in the juicer. You may also want to find one that has the option to adjust the amount of pulp that is included in the finished juice.

Quality juicers can be found at multiple price points. This can help guide the budget conscience. Once you determine which features are most important to you, finding a juicer to fit your needs will be a breeze.

READ MORE Tablet Keyboard Case Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Compatibility

• Size

• Weight

• Backlight

• Battery life & time to charge

• Durability

• Style & design

• Comfort while typing – responsiveness of keys

When it comes to phone and tablet cases, there are two main schools of thought. The first is that cases are bulky, ugly, unnecessary items that no one wants. This group of people believes the natural sleek look of a phone or tablet is more aesthetic. The other school of thought is that cases are fun ways to add a touch of personality to what is otherwise a uniform piece of technology. If you're reading this article, chances are you fall into this group.

No matter which of the two schools of thought you belong to, there are plenty of reasons to get a case, and this buying guide will help you decide.

Durability

Perhaps the primary reason anyone would need a case for their phone or tablet is for protection. Day to day life can be hard on these devices, so making sure it is protected against drops, scrapes, and other accidents is a good way to ensure it lasts for a long time to come. Ensure the case is strong and scratch resistant, and that it doesn't transfer shock to the device when dropped.

Appearance

Perhaps the second most important aspect of a phone or tablet case is the way it looks. Do you want one with a specific print? Would you rather it be solid pink or striped? There are even cases designed after beloved television and movie characters. Whatever case you decide to go with, make sure it fits your personality and style.

Pricing

A huge factor in deciding on a case is the price. Certain cases cost far more than others, but a bit of the pricing difference can be based on quality. If you pick up a brand name case like Otterbox, you know it's going to cost you; however, Otterbox is known for being durable and will replace the case should it break. The same can't be said for no-name cases bought in convenience stores.

Comfort

Another important consideration is comfort. When equipped with a case, does the tablet fit comfortably into your purse or briefcase? Does it feel good in your hands, or does it elicit that fingernails-on-chalkboards response and raise goosebumps on your skin? It's important to pick a case that is not only comfortable, but easy to hold for long periods. After all, many people use a tablet for much more than just work — it serves as an eReader, communication device, and more.

When browsing through the various tablet cases available to you, keep all of the factors in mind. It will help you to make a more informed decision and be much happier with your purchase.

READ MORE Light Bulbs Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of bulb technology desired

• Heat constraints

• Brightness / space where they will illuminate

• Size constraints

• Weather proofing

• Power consumption

• Color representation

There are various kinds of residential light bulbs around and each was designed with a specific purpose in mind. At its most basic level, the function of each is to provide illumination in a room. Bulbs can be used for task lighting or for simple mood lighting. Once a bulb burns out, it can also serve other purposes. Always keep this in mind when you are out to replace the bulbs in your home.

Incandescent Bulbs

These are the standard more traditional bulbs which alot of people are most familiar with. Incandescent lighting works by using electrical power to heat a tungsten filament inside a bulb which then glows. Most of the electrical energy consumed by this type of bulb is given off in the form of heat. Because of the high temperature, the tungsten has a tendency to evaporate and then collect of the sides of the bulb. This eventually causes uneven thinning. Each time the bulb is turned on, the sudden energy surge causes the thinning areas to heat up at a much quicker rate than the rest of the filament. This causes the filament to break and, eventually, the bulb to completely burn out.

If you want to have steady warm light inside a room, and are less concerned with power usage or heat, then it would be good to invest in incandescent lighting. This bulb can last for as long as 700 to a thousand hours. You can also use a dimmer with it.

Halogen Bulbs

This is a variation of the incandescent bulb. Halogen bulbs work in the same manner as they also pass electricity through tungsten filaments. The bulb contains halogen gas in this case. This gas causes a chemical reaction that helps bar the tungsten from attaching to the glass walls, instead deposited back to the filament. Compared to incandescent lighting, halogen bulbs tend to last longer and also give off more lumens per watt, meaning they can offer better illumination.

Be especially careful in handling halogen bulbs, however, as they tend to burn the fingers. Oils from people's fingers can also weaken the glass and cause the bulb's lifespan to be shortened. This can even cause the bulb to burst.

Fluorescent Lighting

This is the type of light bulb that uses a tube filled with mercury and argon gas. This provides ultraviolet radiation, which then floods the phosphorus coating to make it glow. This kind of lighting can last for a long time, as much as 10,000 to 20,000 hours.

Fluorescent lighting is quite efficient as it produces very little heat while offering more light. Though it is often the general perception, it is not true that fluorescent lighting is only able to produce a cool white light in your home or work. These days, this kind of light offers a wide spectrum of color options.

Large storage areas, basements, and lockers tend to work best with fluorescent lighting. Most fluorescent bulbs can be used with dimmers, too.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs

These are modern types of light that work pretty much like regular fluorescent lighting, only they come in smaller packages. CFLs produce very little heat while being energy-efficient. Most of them fit traditional screw type base fittings, but also pin or snap-in types are available.

Here are the equivalent wattages for CFLs and incandescent bulbs:

• 7-10 watts of CFL is equal to 40 watts in incandescent lighting

• 15-18 watts of CFL is to 60 watts of incandescent light

• 20 watts of CFL is to 75 watts of incandescent light

• 20-25 watts of CFL is to 100 watts of incandescent light

• 32 watts of CFL is equal to 150 watts of incandescent bulb

LED or Light Emitting Diodes

LEDs are a type on non-filament bulb that consumes low amounts of energy and come with a longer life span. LED bulbs were initially very expensive when introduced to the market years ago, though the sheer volume being produced and economies of scale has brought pricing to an extremely competitive rate. LEDs are now starting to compete with conventional lighting, offering a huge array of light spectrums and illumination. This is currently the type of bulb that is gaining the most ground, and at its current rate of traction, it won't be long before LED bulbs will surpass all others to be at the very top of the list for residential light bulbs.

READ MORE Motorcycle Cover Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Where motorcycle will be stored / cover used

• UV protection

• Strength of material

• Curability

• Waterproofing

• Mold / mildew resistance

• Interior cover material (soft / heat resistant)

• Length of cover (should be secure and drape long but not touch the ground)

• Size of motorcycle (engine size)

• Portability & security

• Manufacturer warranty

Even if you have a garage, a motorcycle cover is a good way to protect the financial, and if you're like most riders, the emotional investment you've made in your motorcycle. Wind, rain, dust, grime, and even the sun can cause damage, whether it's in the form of rust, pitting your chrome tailpipes or fading your fabulous paint job. Since many new riders eventually trade up to larger bikes after gaining some experience, maintaining resale value is important.

If you have a garage, a simple cover to prevent dust from settling and forming grime that could potentially cause scratches is probably sufficient. If you don't have a garage, the good news is that some companies manufacture covers so sophisticated that they actually serve as portable garages. Many also come with metal grommets that you can thread with a cable to lock or other types of locking mechanisms to prevent theft.

A few things to consider when purchasing a cover are UV protection, strength and durability, and waterproofing. The interior should be made of something soft and heat resistant that will protect your paint from both dust and overheating. Fleece or microfiber are commonly used for this purpose. Even with a heat resistant material like Basofil, it's still recommended to allow the engine to cool for at least 15 minutes before applying the cover.

Most covers come with an elastic hem to prevent contact with the ground, eliminating the possibility of moisture traveling upward. In addition to having adequate ventilation to prevent condensation, the material should also be mold and mildew resistant. It's recommended that the cover be long enough to completely cover the motorcycle without touching the ground.

Cover sizes are commonly based on engine size. For example, a cover for a bike up to 1000 cc's might be 86″L x 44″W x 44″H, while one up to 1500 cc's might be 114″L x 44″W x 44″H. Windshields, saddlebags and rear seats will also add area to those dimensions. Other companies manufacture covers based on the exact make, model and specific added accessories for their customer's convenience.

The size, weight and portability of the cover is an important factor as well. Some heavy-duty home storage covers with features like an aluminum frame can weigh up to 70 pounds. A heavy-duty durable cover can be constructed of up to five layers of materials. For trips with more frequent stops, a more lightweight and easily portable cover with a convenient storage bag is ideal.

Prices for covers range from about $40 to over $400, depending on the materials used and the number of features. Even a simple cover for around $40 should last at least three years. Many are guaranteed for up to 10 years and a few that utilize hi-tech materials such as Tyvek® even carry a lifetime warranty. No matter how long you plan to keep your bike, a cover is an excellent way to maintain its majestic beauty and value while disguising it from potential thieves.

READ MORE WiFi Extender Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Wifi band and technology / transmission speed

• Distance to be covered

• Materials transmitted through

• Antenna type and option to use 3rd party antenna

• Size

• Weight

• Power requirements

• Ability to customize settings

• Security features

You may find that buying a WiFi range extender for use in your home is a vital source of convenience depending on your circumstances. As the name implies, this device maximizes the distance your wireless signal can effectively cover. With a quality extender appropriately positioned, you will be able to connect all of your mobile devices to the Internet reliably from anywhere in your house. If you discover the most convenient spot in the house to work on your laptop is located in a dead zone with limited or even zero connectivity, do yourself a huge favor and pick up an extender.

There are many variables to take into account, however, when shopping around for a WiFi extender and here are some thoughts to help you to know what to look for when you start your search.

The most obvious aspects to consider are price and range; these are best left to the buyers discretion to find a product that fits both their budget and living arrangements. Be wary, however, as you don't want to waste a lot of money for an extender that offers more range than you really need. Expect a quality device to be available for anywhere between $80 to $120.

The router is a fairly simple device, requiring little maintenance to consider. You will, however, need a clear understanding of the range of your current wireless signal to maximize efficiency. As this is a bridge of sorts, you don't want it placed too near your router or a significant amount of signal range will go to waste. At the same time you may need to make concessions for the devices power needs as most extenders need to be plugged in to work, limiting the spaces they can occupy. If there is not an outlet within range of the space you want your enhanced WiFi to reach, then it may be smarter to pursue other options either in placement or signal output.

Really good, high quality extenders will give you options that let you customize the setup to better meet your specific needs in terms of devices used or signal quality.

They do this by either extending the original band used by your WiFi router or by connecting to your router with one band, and then using a second to link to your device. Make sure your new extender works with all the newest devices, matching the speed of new technology. It also helps to have an extender that is capable of updating, either on it own or manually, to help keep pace with the speed required by new devices.

READ MORE Sunscreen Buying Guide for Women

Pay attention to…

• SPF Rating – generally considered no benefit beyond SPF55

• Child or Adult – children can be more susceptible to negative effects from some chemicals; child friendly options exist and should be entertained even for adults.

• Active ingredients – choose less toxic choices when possible

• Activity – choose a ‘Sport’ option that is resistant to sweat & water if that is a factor

• Many makeup companies are incorporating sunscreen into their products

• Use SPF enhanced lip gloss or sticks along with traditional sunscreen creams/lotions for face and body

Sunscreen is one of the most powerful and important ways to prevent premature aging and cancer potential. Sun damage is the top cause of wrinkles and age spots as well as directly leading to skin cancer and other ailments. Sunscreen comes in many forms; here are some different ways to incorporate sunblock into an everyday beauty routine.

Moisturizer is the most obvious and common way to get a daily dose of SPF. If it is already being applied every morning, choosing a product that provides sun protection adds extra benefits for no extra effort. The trouble with moisturizers is that they are always a bit greasy, even if they are oil-free; it is simply the nature of the sunscreen ingredients. If one wears powder over her moisturizer every day, this is not an issue, but many women do not want to feel forced to wear makeup. SPF-infused moisturizers also sometimes leave white casts on the face and look odd in flash photography. Still, moisturizers are a great and inexpensive daily option for women who want to protect their skin. CeraVe, Neutrogena and Oil of Olay are good places to start.

High-end makeup companies are starting to put SPF in their primers. Since primer is applied under makeup, it acts much like a moisturizer would, but without the irritating greasiness. The SPF coverage in a primer is much less than the protection provided by a moisturizer, but it is worth investing in a product like this if one does not spend too much time outdoors and is already accustomed to using primer every day. Smashbox's best-selling clear primer is now available with SPF.

BB creams almost always contain sunblock. These one-size-fits-all products are incredibly popular among young women, who do not have the time or funds to invest in multi-step makeup routines. Since they surely want to keep their skin looking young as long as possible, they should be using BB creams with SPF. Sunscreen will not turn back the clock, but it can help the skin maintain its current wrinkle-free state. Garnier's BB cream has SPF 15, while Maybelline's formula has SPF 30. Smashbox's BB cream is a bit pricier, but it contains SPF 35 and comes in a wide variety of shades.

Mineral makeup is the go-to for women who want a flawless finish and sun protection in one product. Bareminerals' Mineral Veil finishing powder with SPF 25 was the first mainstream product to provide these benefits, and it is still the best. One could apply this over bare skin for a subtle glow, or she could use it as a setting powder over makeup. Occasionally touch-ups perfect the finish and boost the sun protection. Layering this over a BB cream or a sunscreen moisturizer would amplify the benefits even more.

The lips need to be protected from sunburns and wrinkles as well. ELF's Studio Lip Balms contain SPF 15 and come in a variety of flattering tints. The rose and peach shades are especially pretty, and at just a few dollars each, there is no reason not to stock up on this essential product.

Use one or two of these products to fill in the gaps in an existing beauty arsenal, or wear them all at once for a full face of protection.

READ MORE
Women's Epilator Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Power supply / battery life

• Type of epilation used

• Number of grips

• Weight

• Ease of cleaning

• Speed of rotation

• Width of working surface

What Is Epilating?

It is hair removal done in the bathtub and has become very popular among women. It is the perfect solution for people with sensitive skin, as an epilator does not actually pull the skin itself when removing the hair. It is essentially a set of tweezers on the head of an epilator that is that is grabbing and removing the hair. More women are using it because it leaves minimal effects to the skin and is considered very efficient by most fans. The device grabs multiple strands of hair for removal allowing less passes and time to achieve the desired result.

It is a single handheld device that looks like a razor, but has it's own unique hair removal process. It can be compared to a shaver, in that they both remove unwanted hair, but has it's own unique qualities for hair removal. Note that epilators should always be cleaned and stored properly, and never shared by other users. Prices for an epilator run from $39.95 to $100.00 or more.

Top (4) Reasons To Epilate

• Long lasting results for your skin

On average, epilating lasts longer than traditional waxing and shaving with a razor. Your skin has a smooth glow that lasts for 6-8 weeks on average. The more you become experienced with epilating the less you will have to use the product to remove hair, and the hair goes back far less thicker with prolonged use.

• It can be used on different body parts

There is different attachments that will allow you to use the device on all the various body parts. The epilator was designed for more than just the legs. You can remove hair from the most intimate parts of your body with comfort and ease and get quality results for all your unique body parts.

• Epilation is better than waxing

When you're getting a wax the hair is flattened during the process and harder to remove. However, this epilating products makes removing hair simple and easy. There are a number of options from major brands that come with wet & dry capabilities.

• Saves The Customer Money

There is always the benefit of removing your own hair in the privacy of your home. The individual will both save time as well as money, all while not having to expose oneself's most intimate parts to strangers. There are easy to understand instructions and online tutorials that will help you with using the Epilator most efficiently, so that should not be a concern. As with all home hair removal products, customers should follow the instructions to make sure they are using the product appropriately and to avoid possible skin irritation.

Get rid of unwanted hair and have the smooth skin for weeks that you desire. Never again spend another expensive trip to get a wax and enjoy going without a touch up for weeks!

READ MORE A Quick Guide to Choosing Pet Dishes

Pay attention to…

• Non-toxic materials

• Ease of cleaning / dishwasher safe

• Height of pet

• Volume of food or water needed

• Durability

• Materials

• Style

• Weight

One look at the variety of pet dishes available for purchase on the shelves of even the smallest pet store can be overwhelming for the new or even the experienced dog or cat owner. Properly chosen dishes not only provide your pet with the correct amounts of food and water daily, but also help them learn their own place within your household. Each pet in your household should have its own set of bowls to cut down on potential mealtime aggression and the possibility that one will eat all of the food leaving none for the others.

The easiest considerations for choosing your pet’s food and water bowl needs should be whether they fit into the space set aside for them, ease of cleaning and if they fit the specific dietary needs of your pet’s breed. A bit more difficult is picking from the wide range of materials these accessories are made from, including plastic, ceramic, rubber and stainless steel. Bowls may be non-tip, collapsible, elevated or flat, automatic, singles, doubles, and there are even ‘go slow’ dishes made for both dogs and cats that are prone to gulping down their meals.

Plastic bowls tend to be the least expensive option and easiest to obtain. They are produced in a rainbow of colors and generally run between three and five dollars each. Sometimes the double sets may be a few dollars more, as will be larger dish sets. As far as cleaning and adaptability goes, plastic bowls are easy to care for and general the better priced options. Many, however, are not dishwasher safe and they are easily scratched and chewed.

Ceramic dishes are produced in a variety of styles, from the artistic to utilitarian. They are easily personalized and tend to be heavy enough not to tip over easily, even when used to feed the biggest dogs. Do Note that they should not be purchased unless clearly marked as food safe. One drawback of ceramic pet bowls to keep in mind, however, is that once they are chipped or cracked they are almost impossible to keep clean. Ceramic pet bowls tend to run between five and fifteen dollars each, depending on size and decoration.

Stainless steel bowls are probably the most economical and long-lasting of all the choices available. They are usually dishwasher safe and durable. Every type of pet dish available has a stainless steel version, but especially popular are the rubber-backed non-slip and go-slow varieties. They range in size from puppy to Great Dane and the smaller ones are useful for other pets, too, such as cats, birds, and rodents due to their practically unbreakable nature. Stainless steel bowls range in price from two dollars up to twenty whether you purchase them in store or online.

READ MORE
Bird Cage Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Width and spacing of bars

• Room to fly (if unclipped wings)

• Dimension of the cage relative to the size and needs of bird(s)

• Access hatch for feeding and moving bird in/out

• Weight an maneuverability

• Quality joints and materials for longevity

Finding the Right Home for Your Feathered Friend

For first time bird owners picking the right birdcage can be deceptively difficult. A cage might seem like a very simple construct, and in some sense it is, but how your bird relates to it and how good a fit it is (literally as well as metaphorically) can make all the difference between a happy pet and a miserable one.

The first thing to consider is the spacing of the bars of the cage. If the bars are too far apart your pet will not be able to properly climb, this is also the case if the bars are too small. Small bars can also block visibility which can irritate some birds as well as stop you from seeing your pet which can make all the difference if the animal is out of food or water and you simply did not notice for a day (or several). You can see where that can lead... Also if the bars are too far apart your pet may be able to stick it's head through which can cause all kinds of unwanted complications. Complications such as the bird biting unwanted guests who try to feed it, in some cases injuring them if it has a strong bite force, or even the bird's head getting stuck in the fencing and injuring itself.

Next, make sure to account for the internal spacing of the cage, such that the bird has room to fly (if its wings have not yet been clipped) and walk about in at least a small semi circle. Here is an easy metric, if your bird's tail touches any part of the cage wall when it is sitting on it's perch then your cage is far too small. Similarly, do not just focus solely on the bird, as it and its cage will be taking up permanent (hopefully) residence in your house. That being said, make certain you have a good space to place it. An optimal location would be somewhere that is easy to access (for humans that is, not birds) such as the corner of a living room or bedroom, a walled, seal-able porch or if need be garage.

Lastly, make sure that you are getting your money's worth when it comes to the material of the cage itself. No one wants to spend $300+ on a bird cage only to find it falling in upon being knocked over by your kids or a stray vacuum sweeper. Ornate is good, but always go with the sturdiest option that you can for the birds protection as well as for the cage investment itself. With these simple tips in mind you should have no problem whatsoever in choosing the right cage for your newest addition to your family.

READ MORE
Cat Collar Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size and fit

• Breakaway or stretch options, in case animal is caught

• ID tag options

• Reflectivity to aid in seeing the animal at night if outdoors

• Material

• Easy of cleaning

Cat collars come in a number of different types and styles, serving different functions and appealing to cat owners for a number of different reasons. The primary reason cat owners invest in collars is to help their cat return home in case the cat escapes or is lost.

A cat collar alone implies ownership, so that anyone finding the lost cat will know to either allow the cat to return home on its own, or to take the cat to an animal shelter. However, many cat collars come with a ring or simply allow the owner to attach an ID tag, making the return of a lost pet even easier.

Most cat collars differ from collars for other pets, such as dogs, in that they are designed to snap apart if the collar gets caught on something. Elastic collars will stretch when caught, allowing the cat to struggle free. Other safety collars will snap open under pressure, and are generally regarding as being safer than the elastic alternative.

Another common collar is flea collars. Flea collars can help drive away unwanted pests, and work effectively to prevent fleas from settling on a cat in the first place. Flea collars contain chemicals unpleasant to fleas. As the collar bends and stretches, the chemicals are released onto the cat's fur. Flea collars vary in how long they are effective, some lasting for most of a year.

Magnetic collars are for cat owners who want their cat to be able to roam freely in and out doors. The magnet acts as a key to a corresponding pet door. When the collar is in range, the electromagnetic pet door unlocks, allowing the cat to pass through unhampered while preventing other cats or wild animals from coming into the home.

Collars made from reflective materials are designed to allow a cat to be more easily seen at night. These collars will reflect any visible light, such as light from flashlights or car headlights. This may be used to give a cat owner more ease of mind for the safety of their cat alone outdoors, or so that a lost cat may be more easily found at night.

Most collars are made from either nylon or leather, and are fairly easy to care for. Cats are naturally hygienic, keeping themselves fairly clean. A collar can still get soiled and may require a small amount of maintenance. Nylon collars can be machine washed in cold water with regular detergent, or a hypoallergenic alternative for cats allergic to dyes or perfumes. Leather collars may be hand washed, or cleaned with a leather cleaner.

Any type of collar may come in a variety of styles, to the owner's tastes. Ultimately, it will be a balance of functionality and fashion – where you end up on that scale will determine the collar that is best for you and your pet.

READ MORE
Cat Trees Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Space occupied by tree

• Size of pet

• Multiple pets or single cat

• Sturdiness

• Materials built from

• Scratching elements

• Ease of cleaning

• Weight

• Variance of perches

• Style and fit with decor

There is no better way to show your love and affection for your cat than getting it a good brawny cat tree to play on and sleep. When doing your research, you will see many names given for cat trees such as cat condos, cat gyms or a kitty towers. A good cat condo allows your feline friend to quench its natural urge to scratch and stretch without damaging any household items. A cat tree will also offer the cat a well-desired platform to play around and keep fit. Cats are known to be very energetic animals that require stimulation to keep them happy. To keep your cat entertained, you need to get the cat tree that suits your pet, as well as fitting well in your household.

Cat condos come in different sizes, shape, materials as well as designs. Nowadays, there are a huge array of cat tree designs ranging from the carpeted type to the aluminum covered cat gyms. The carpeted car tree is considered to be an excellent choice since it gives a soothing sensation to sleep on, great little nooks for claws to dig into, and it is still attractive if left out in the open. However, you need to be careful while choosing these carpeted kitty towers since some get torn easily by the cat as it scratches and can begin to shed. Some cat gyms are made of an acrylic textile which is becoming very popular, since unlike the carpet fabric, acrylic does not tear easily and thus is considered to be a more long lasting option. More so, the acrylic cat gym is easier to wash. However, its disadvantage is that most cats do not seem to like it if transitioning from previous carpeted options; it simply does not seem to give the same scratching sensation as the carpeted cat trees.

The prices of a new cat condo depend on many factors, but ultimately on the quality that the cat owner is looking for. Cheaper cat gyms often are made of insubstantial materials, and therefor they do not tend to last long. More dangerously, the cheap cat trees sometimes cut costs and do not have a stable base so your cat can fall off and risk getting injured. It is advisable to always go for a high quality kitty tower, obviously sticking within your budget. A high quality cat tree is going to be long lasting, have a very sturdy base, and the material used to design it will not irritate your cat - or you! You should also put into consideration the height of the cat tree, especially if you have older pets. Your cat should not strain while climbing up or down the cat gym, so choose accordingly. With a little bit of research and forethought, you will be able to find the right tree for your pet the first time and the both of you can enjoy it for may ears to come.

READ MORE
Dog Collar Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size and fit

• Purpose of the collar – to restrain on leash or tether, decorative, etc

• ID tag options

• Reflectivity to aid in seeing the animal at night if outdoors

• Material

• Easy of cleaning

Dog collars are a thin strap of material that clasp, buckle, or tie around a dog's neck in a similar way to what a bracelet would wrap around a human's wrist. Dog collars are used to attach identification to the dog so that they can be returned to the owner in case they get loose. Every dog should have a collar with proper identification.

Choosing the right collar for your dog may be a little trickier than you thought. You really have to decide what you value in a collar and what your dog really needs in a collar. Do you have a small dog? Large dog? Did you know that there are anywhere from 5 to 8 different collar sizes based on brand? Did you know that there are well over 20 different materials that a dog collar can be made out of? Did you know that there are metal, plastic, composite, and even wooden clasps and buckles for dog collars?

Let us explore 3 of these options a little further.

Collar size

In order to get the proper sized collar for your dog measure their neck. You may do this with a piece of string. Wrap it around their neck so that it lays flat against their fur. Make sure that you can fit 2 to 3 fingers in-between the string and the dog's neck. Once you have done this measure the string in both centimeters and inches. Either of these measurements can be found on collars labels.

It is important to get a collar that is the right size. A collar that is too small will not fit around the dog's neck. A collar that is too large will just fall off of the dog.

Collar Materials

Nylon webbing is the most popular material. It is cheap and very durable. It does not tear easily, does not get ruined in water, and it comes in a variety of very popular colors. Nylon webbing does not stretch out but is highly flexible. Most Nylon dog collars come with standard adjustable metal hardware. Most dogs will only ever need one of these collars upon reaching adulthood.

Polypropylene Webbing is the other popular option for dog collars. This is because it has everything that the nylon webbing has, but is lighter and waterproof.

Other materials are less popular. These materials include but are not limited to cotton webbing, seat belt webbing, ribbon webbing, and elastic webbing.

Collar Design

The design on the collar speaks to the dog's personality as well as the owner's personality. Some collars have printed designs like flowers and checkered patterns. Some collars have rhinestones on them. Even more collars have spikes, bells, or other attachments.

It is important to note the functionality of any additional rhinestones, spikes, or other ornaments. These ornaments are occasionally added to train animals. It is most important to stay away from these ornaments because they may actually harm your dog. Instead, stick to small rhinestones or other ornaments that face away from the dog's neck on the collar. This will help ensure comfort as well as serve its aesthetic purpose.

READ MORE
Doghouse Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size of pet

• Dimensions of space where it is to reside

• Ventilation

• Heated elements

• Size of door and type

• Protection from elements

• Lighting

• Weight / permanence of installed location

• Construction materials

When furry family members are spending time in their private space, the accommodations should make them just as comfortable as when they are in the family home itself. A good way to remember the main considerations when buying a doghouse are the 3 S's (Spending, Size, and Sorts). Simply explained, it is important to establish how much you are willing to spend, the size dog house appropriate for your pet, and what sort of features are right for the weather environment and placement of the dog house.

Spending

In today's economy, there are very few times that budget isn't a consideration for a purchase of any magnitude. Before finalizing the budget for your new doghouse, it is best to first shop the set of features that you consider to be most important. The lowest priced doghouse may be less sturdy, and need to be replaced sooner because of wear and tear due to climate and use. Little attention to size or comfort features may result in a beautiful doghouse that the dog isn't interested in using. While everyone wants the best value for their money, the best balance is a doghouse that has quality construction and a fit that makes the dog allow to rest comfortably at home.

Size

It's important to know that the design should fit the dog. Investing in a doghouse too soon in your puppy's life may not be desirable, because one of the purposes of the doghouse is to impart a feeling of security for your pet. It should be big enough to allow your dog to circle around and lie down completely inside with ease. The size of the doorway should ideally be just a few inches bigger than the height and width of your dog. A door or vinyl flap can also be a great addition to make the doghouse cozy, so long as some type of lighting (natural or electric) is incorporated as a part of the design. A raised floor can be beneficial in minimizing some of the wear on the doghouse, but should consider the length of the dogs' legs and age so the dog will be able to enter the house safely and comfortably for all chapters of their life.

Sorts

Doghouses are available in a range of materials including plastic, metal, and wood. Plastic can be more desirable for more rainy climates, while wood will provide more insulation for areas with hot and cold extremes. Metal is generally thought of as a more temporary material, and may not provide the best protection from the elements. The roofing must protect against rain leaks and should definitely be tested before it becomes a potential problem. If you live in a cold-weather area, you should strongly consider including heating in the doghouse. Warm weather breed dogs, however, should always be kept indoors during winter months if at all possible - not just for comfort but actual safety. Don't forget that you can always feel free to make your dog's new home as fancy as you want! Many doghouses today come with sun decks and porches to give your pet's doghouse a tail wagging curb appeal.

READ MORE
Pet Travel Carriers Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Size of pet relative to size of carrier for mobility concerns.

• Length of travel – do you need to have space for food/water or litter box/pads

• Proper ventilation

• Security of doors – plastic/metal and how it is locked

• Material type – canvas for flexibility or in-cabin, hard case for below deck or more rugged needs

• Airline regulations – airlines have different regulations on size & materials allowed

Choosing the right Pet Carrier

When choosing a pet carrier, it may seem overwhelming because there is such a vast number of options to choose from. From canvas pet carriers to hard plastic carriers, there are many options available to suit individual needs, preferences, and even stylistic choices. It's paramount to keep in mind the comfort and safety of your pet when choosing a pet carrier because they are the one who will be traveling in the carrier, and the wrong choices could be uncomfortable at best and outright dangerous at worst.

Every pet carrier needs to well ventilated for your pet's safety and comfort, this is both for general airflow but also for temperature regulation. Any carrier you choose must always have at least three sides that feature ventilation. Any less than three sides of ventilation on a carrier could leave your pet without enough air to breathe and make them uncomfortable inside the carrier, greatly increasing the anxiety of the move. While some pet carriers feature a plastic door, a metal door that closes with a simple latch is usually the best option to go with. Plastic doors may be a challenge to keep anxious pets inside, as a determined cat or dog can try to push open the rather flimsy plastic which is dangerous for the animal and potentially people around them as well.

Make sure when choosing a pet carrier that it is big enough for your pet to easily stand up and turn around in. They should also be able to lay down inside the carrier with ease and comfort. Anything too small for your pet will leave them uncomfortable, feeling trapped, and wanting to escape. You can try to make the carrier more comfortable for your pet by including a soft blanket or soft pillow made for carriers and traveling. The hard plastic carriers can come in handy because they allow for an easy clean-up in case your pet has an accident while traveling. Some carriers feature absorbent pads inside the carrier in case of accidents. If you plan to travel for longer distances, the carrier should be big enough to accommodate food and water bowls, as well as a litter box or puppy pads.

Canvas and other fabric carriers are ideal for airport travel. If your pet travels with you in the cabin, the soft carriers will fit underneath the seat in from of you and are often designed for your pet's safety and comfort in mind, with adequate room to look out of the carrier. These carriers often have mesh "windows," which allow for good ventilation and for your pet to see what's going on around him or her. It is very important to always consult with the airline you will be flying with to make sure the carrier meets their requirements. Different airlines have their own animal carrier standards in place which often include consideration to size, ventilation, sturdiness of the carrier, and even design requirements.

READ MORE Camera Bags Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of camera model

• Carrying capacity needed

• Custom inserts

• Weight

• Durability

• Material type (leather / synesthetic / metal)

• Degree of protection and cushioning provided

Capturing the right photo or video can have the power to bring forth a flood of emotions and leave a crowd speechless. Taking care of the camera that can capture thee once in a lifetime moments is important. Finding the right camera bag is the first line of defense in the life of your camera and the quality of pictures it is able to take.

When shopping for the perfect camera bag, there are several things to take into consideration. The first is how often will you be using your camera bag. If you are a freelance photographer or a journalist, you are going to want a bag that is comfortable to carry with you at all times, durable enough to last through various weather climates, and have enough room to carry all your photography supplies with you.

Next to consider is how easy is it to clean. Most camera bags hold a certain form to protect the camera and equipment inside against damage of the elements and any other hazards that could negatively impact the contents. These bags are generally built to last and are easy to clean with a damp cloth after each use. Each bag will have special care instructions upon purchasing and it is advised to pay attention and head the details for the prolonged life of the camera bag.

Finally, buying the bag that is a right fit for the specific camera in question is critically important. Camera bags generally have support and padded cushions to hold the camera into place to prevent damage and often are mobile to make more custom fits. If the padded supports are too loose around the camera, there is a great chance the camera will jostle around in the bag and unnecessarily risk damage to occur. Alternately, if the camera bag itself is too small, it can create added pressure to the camera casing, potentially causing premature wear and tear.

The cost of camera bags will vary greatly. It will depend on the size, where you purchase it from, and any additional add-on components that you buy with the bag. Camera bags can be purchased online or in the retail store, though most often the best deals are to be found comparing online options. If you have questions about a certain camera bag or are unsure of which product would be best, there are always customer service representatives that are knowledgeable of the type of camera and what bag suits it best for your needs. A couple direct questions pointed towards the manufacturer, or at a specialty shop, will allow you to take that knowledge and find your best deal online.

READ MORE The Home Printer Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Compatibility

• Space required

• Type of technology

• Color vs black & white / greyscale

• Individual cartridges for each color

• Speed

• Noise

• Built in scanner

• Feeder for scanner (if applicable)

• Storage capacity of blank sheets

• Wireless options

A printer is a computer device that accepts output from a system and is then able to transmit that information through ink or heat onto paper. A home printer is simply that, it is a printer that can be installed and used within your home. However it is a bit more complicated than may be initially perceived, as there are several home printer styles available on today's market. This guide will help you in finding the best home printer for your needs.

Types of Home Printers Available on the Market

It is important before starting your search to know what types of home printing devices are available on the market today. The main varieties that you will see in your search are outlined below.

• All in One Printers- a printing device that includes printing, scanning, copying and faxing capabilities.

• Wireless Printers- a printing device that receives output from a separate device wirelessly to print.

• Photo Printers- a printing device optimized for printing photos. These units are typically inkjet printers but you may see some models that are thermal dye printers.

• Inkjet Printers- a printing device that transfer ink onto paper to form the requested image or text.

• Laser Printers- a printing device that uses a laser to form the requested pattern on paper via electrostatically charged dots on a drum that attracts toner. Through a heat process the toner is transferred onto paper.

Things to Consider

There are many things to consider when shopping for your home printer. Take into consideration that the following will depend highly on the type of printer that you are looking to purchase as outlined above.

• Price: This will be one of the biggest factors to look at no matter what your needs are as every type of printer varies in price. The price will increase as the number of features and functionalities of the unit does.

• Size: Size will be another very important aspect to consider when shopping for a home printer. Lets take for example, if you live in a studio apartment, it will be important that your unit is compact as to not take up valuable space.

• Features- There are many features available for home printers. Those features range from Wi-Fi capabilities, scanning, faxing and copying capabilities, the ability to read memory cards, optimization for photo printing, two-sided printing and much more.

• Speed- Depending on your needs, the speed of printing and other features of the unit your purchase may or may not be of great importance.

No matter what your needs are there is a home printer for you. Start shopping today in store or online and enjoy the freedom of printing from home.

READ MORE PC Computer Memory Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Compatibility

• Speed

• Specific type

• Memory needs (applications used, etc.)

• Potential warranty issues with using 3rd party memory

PC computer memory is a very important component of any computer that allows it to store temporary files and information for different programs to access. The amount of memory your computer has and the speed of that memory can greatly affect how fast your computer is able to load and function. Some computer programs require more memory than others to function, so it is important to ensure that you have enough available. If you don't have enough memory in your computer for what you want to do, you may experience a lot of lockups or a complete crash. Whether you're building a new computer, buying a new computer, or wanting to upgrade your existing machine to take advantage of faster speeds, it's very important to know which memory type and capacity is going to be the best for your computer.

Memory Types

There are many different types of computer memory and it's very important to know which type you need. Laptops, desktops, and servers all have their own types of memory.

If you're building a brand new computer you would most likely want to go with DDR4 or DDR3 memory depending on what motherboard you purchase. If you're adding memory to an existing computer you can either look up the owner's manual to determine what type you need or you can use any of the free tools available on the Internet. These tools are able to look at your computer directlyto see what type of memory you have currently and how much you can add. Note that these ‘free’ tools will often give you their own recommendations to purchase from them but keep in mind you may be able to find the memory cheaper elsewhere.

Memory Needs

Just because your computer can handle 32GB of memory doesn't mean you need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars to get that much. When purchasing RAM for your computer you need to have an idea of what all you're doing. Take a look at the programs you use the most and their system requirements. For example, if you use Photoshop you will need at least 2GB of RAM to run it, but 8GB is recommended. 8GB of RAM is standard for most computers these days. 16GB offers plenty of extra flexibility in most circumstances.

No matter how much memory you buy or what type you end up with, it's important to make sure you have what's compatible with your computer in advance. Note that computer memory often has very strict return policies and in some cases you can't return it once it's been taken out of the package.

READ MORE Electric Razors Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Power source

• Battery life

• Time to charge

• Maintenance / cleaning

• Cost of replacement blades

• Foil or rotary style

• Add-ons and attachments

It can be surprising how many options are available in the electric razor market. Finding one to exactly suit your needs can be a daunting challenge. By examining features one at a time, however, you can quickly determine which ones will bring you the results and shaving experience you are looking for.

Power Sources

One of the most notable differences between various razors is how they are powered. Some will come with traditional standard attached cords that must be left plugged in during use. Others may be rechargeable, only needing to be plugged in when the battery runs low. Some are even operated with disposable batteries, eliminating the cord, but requiring backups be available to ensure a complete shave. As far as which is right for you, you may want to consider when you will be using it and how accessible a power outlet is to the area you will be shaving in. Consider whether the cord will hinder your ability to use the device, or if you may need to use it away from power outlets all together. Determining your preferred power source can quickly narrow down the options that are best for you.

Foil or Rotary

Foil razors have a rectangular shaped head. The cutting implement oscillates behind a protective screen. Rotary razors often have multiple circular heads. Each rotates, housed behind a fine grid, to cut hairs.

Shaving Conditions

If you would like the option to use the razor while in the shower, you will need to look for a model that can safely get wet. Not all razors are designed to come in contact with water. Those that aren't water friendly can pose an extreme risk of electrocution, which can result in harm or even death. Generally referred to as wet/dry models, these razors have been designed to work safely when in contact with water. This may also affect how you must clean the device, as some cannot be cleaned using water. If it is not specifically labeled for use in water, it is best to assume that it is unsafe to use in that way.

Attachments

Electric razors may come alone or with attachments. If you just want a clean, close shave without any additional trimming or shaping, a standalone razor will likely suffice. If you are looking to groom facial hair, trim sideburns, or even do home haircuts, you will likely want trimmer attachments. The attachments allow you to control how closely the razor shaves, and can be set to leave hair at specified lengths. The number of attachments you need will depend on what tasks your wish to complete. Razors that are part of home haircut kits will likely have more attachments than those designed only for facial hair.

READ MORE Hiking Boot Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of terrain

• Duration of hike / trip

• Water proofing

• Backpack load/weight

• Proper fit while wearing the appropriate socks and anticipating natural foot swelling

• Material type (leather, synthetics, etc.)

• Weight of shoe

• Ankle support

Guide to Purchasing Hiking Boots

Getting outside and away from the every day pressures of work and school helps people refocus and refresh. Hiking is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors. And to prepare for hiking, you need the correct gear and clothing. One of the most important pieces you will need for a comfortable, enjoyable hike is good hiking boots. Since there are so many different types and price ranges to choose from, it is important to research and determine the best boot or shoe for you.

Before you run straight to the hiking boot section at your local outdoor store, you must determine what you will be using your hiking boots for: day hikes, backpacking, rocky terrain, or wet or cold climates. Knowing these key factors will be helpful in deciding the best hiking boot or shoe for you. There are three basic options to begin with: hiking shoes, hiking boots, and backpacking boots.

The hiking shoe is low-cut and great for day hikes or backpacking trips over the weekend. It is a light-weight shoe that can be used while hiking with a backpack of 25 pounds or less. Oftentimes trail runners will use a trail-running shoe, which is similar to a hiking shoe, for long distance, low-impact day hikes.

For those interested in short day trips or weekend hiking excursions, a hiking boot may be what you are looking for. Hiking boots protect and support the ankle with mid- to high-cut options and are great for those with weak ankles. While hiking on any terrain, these boots help guard the ankle from over extending should you be hiking over exposed tree roots or rocky terrain. Also, if the environment you are hiking in involves water to any degree, a mid- to high-cut hiking boot will help protect your feet from moisture. Water-proof hiking boots are also crucial for hiking in a wetter environment.

A backbacking boot is designed to be used during multiple day hikes and has great ankle support for more rough terrain. This option is also best for hiking with heavier backpacks of 50 pounds or more.

When going to an outdoor store to test out hiking shoes or boots, bring the socks you will wear while hiking. While at a store, have your foot measured again, to find the best fit. Another great point is that it is best to go shopping later in the day because your feet swell just a bit during the day's activities. Because your feet are at their largest at the end of the day, try on hiking shoes or boots then to ensure you do not purchase a boot that is too small. After you have found the shoe or boot that you think is best, take a walk around the store for a bit. This will make sure you like the feel and fit.

Hiking is a great way to exercise and enjoy time alone and with friends. Take time to find the right hiking shoe or boot; your feet will be glad you did.

READ MORE
Shopping for Running Shoes

Pay attention to…

• Weight

• Proper fit with appropriate sock

• Breathability / ventilation

• Support or mechanical aids

• Materials

• Durability of sole

• Style and reflective materials

Running is a great sport being embraced by more and more people everyday, but it requires a specific type of shoe if you want to do it safely. Running puts a strain on your feet by the repetitive motion it involves and to ease some of that strain you will want a good pair of running shoes. There are several factors to think about when buying a new pair. The best running shoes will always be the ones that fit your specific foot and running style.

There are three different types of running shoes and the first thing you need to understand is your own foot. Cushioned shoes are recommended for people with high arches or underpronation. Stability shoes are better for people with low arches or overpronation, and people who are looking for a minimalist shoe may use more “barefoot” styled shoes. You should base your decision on which shoes to buy on your type of foot & stride in order to safely get the most out of your shoes.

You will also want to checkout the breathability of the shoe when making your selection. While running your feet are likely to sweat heavily and having a breathable shoe will be helpful. Some shoes offer a mesh upper which gives you a lot of breathability. However, if you will be running off-road or in cold wet weather you may want to purchase a shoe with more protection. Some shoes offer a waterproof lining which can be useful in wet climates, but it will definitely reduce the breathability.

Another very important factor to consider is the fit. You will need a shoe that fits you comfortably if you want to use them as part of your regular routine. For cushioning or stability shoes the fit should be snug while allowing a little wiggle room for your feet but not enough to cause rubbing. If you are buying barefoot shoes they should fit snug with no wiggle room.

Running shoes also vary by their weight. The industry offers many lightweight running shoes that make it easier for you to move your feet, but it will usually come at a sacrifice of options & you may prefer a heavier more stable shoe. A heavier shoe will usually have more traction and a thicker sole but a lighter shoe usually has better responsiveness. They tend to respond to your foot and your body with more ease. Depending on your running style and your personal preference you should choose a weight, cushion, and tread that feels best to you.

These are a few of the key factors you will want to consider before buying a pair or running shoes and when you do find a good pair that fits you may want to buy a couple pairs, as the manufacturers are known to switch out shoe lines often.

READ MORE Bicycle Helmet Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Shell material and density

• Inner helmet foam

• Snug fit, but not too tight

• Strap material & adjustability

• Venting and airflow

Bicycle Shopping: Helmet Safety and Comfort

When you are shopping for a bicycle helmet, you need to keep in mind two main factors: safety and comfort. Any cyclist can tell you the importance of these two factors when purchasing a helmet for riding.

Safety

When you are purchasing a helmet, the whole purpose comes down to safety. Helmet safety quality is essentially the difference between wearing one while riding and not. You need a helmet that is going to stand up to a large scale collision. While cycling, this collision could come in the form of another cyclist, a car, or the road itself.

Helmets properly protect one’s head by using a hard outer shell and a lighter inside foam. The shell material is the immediate contact point for the collision. The shell reduces the strength of the immediate collision and will protect your skull. For this reason, it is important to research the shell strength and crash test results for the helmet you are interested in.

The foam inside the helmet is also extremely important. The foam acts as a cushion and reduces the impact of your skull against the hard outer shell and the object. This crush-able foam absorbs the impact of your head against the helmet. Avoid purchasing a helmet that does not have a foam cushion inside to protect your head.

Comfort

The second main factor when purchasing a helmet, comfort, is just as important as safety. You will be wearing this object on your head for extended times while riding your bike. If it is painful or uncomfortable, your riding experience will be affected. For this reason, look into a few features that will ensure proper comfort in your helmet.

One of the most common complains of helmet pain is sizing. You will quickly learn that the ‘one size fits all’ helmet may not fit quite as well as you had expected. Similarly, helmet straps can cause complains when they are too short and cause discomfort around the face and neck. Instead of risking discomfort, consider helmets that have adjustable helmet sizes and adjustable helmet straps.

Heat, or overheating, is another common obstacle to comfort while riding. In particular, heat due to poor helmet design can be extremely problematic. Most modern helmets have adopted some form of vents in the shell to accommodate this heat problem. While all helmets address overheating by including vents, not all helmets are properly designed for this. Research the helmet and its vents’ performance to ensure that you do not risk overheating while riding.

READ MORE
Workout Dumbbells Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Space required

• Individual set weights or variable

• If variable weight, the technology used (plates and clamps, dials, etc.)

• Quality of material

• Durability

• Round or flat edged to resist rolling

• Inclusion of stands

• Appropriate sized grips

• Grip material

Dumbbells are a type of free-weights that are perfect for beginners, but can be used to great advantage by veteran weight lifters as well. They are individual bars, designed to be lifted with one hand, capped with weights on either end to create a defined overall end weight (10 lbs, 20 lbs, 30 lbs, etc.). They are very small and versatile and can offer really excellent resistance for those just starting out. How do they differ from Barbells? Barbells are much longer in length, ad require the use of both hands to appropriately balance the weight as it is moved trough the exercise.

It is generally recommended that those who are just beginning in the world of weight lifting to buy a set of dumbbells initially due to their inherent flexibility. Question is - how will you know if you are buying the best ones for you?

Follow below for some simple buying tips, starting with your first most basic decision.

1) Buy a few dumbbell sets. Buy them in different weight ranges two at a time for balanced work and anywhere from 5-20 pounds. This option is probably the best option if you have the space and budget.

2) Buy a dumbell ‘kit’. This is the cheapest option you have available to you, and the kit will include a set of handles and weight plates. This will generally cost anywhere from $30-100. The more you spend, the better the quality, and often the more weight options you will get.

Comparing the two side-by-side, the first choice is your better option in terms of safety as well as usability. When you have the kit, you will have to change the collar as you add/subtract weight plates for the specific exercise as needed. This is basically why buying several dumbbells is the suggested option; it will save you time, money, and will end up being safer in the long run. A potential issue of going with a kit is the durability. Do to the constant taking on/off of the weights, there will be a degree of wear and tear that cannot be avoided. Over time, pieces can get lost, or even damaged, creating a potentially very dangerous situation.

The best thing to do when looking for value and quality is almost always to shop around. Try out different things. Maybe you might like contoured handles. Maybe you might prefer the straight handles. One thing to strongly consider, even at a greater price, are weights with hexagonal ends. This is a safety and convenience that you should look at. You will often be very tired when using them, and simply put, they won't roll when you set them down.

Regardless if you purchase a set, or just an individual kit, should think about investing in a rack. This will keep all your dumbbells safe and organized, and therefore your home safe and organized. When you exercise, you really don't want clutter around you - beyond just the looks, it is dangerous. Consider the space you might need prior to buying. Is the room in your home you will be exercising in, suitable for storing your dumbbells as well as providing a good workout environment? These are important questions.

Think about why you are buying these dumbbells. Are you looking to completely tone-up? Are you just looking to trim some inches from your waist? Are you looking to build up some more muscle mass? Knowing these answers will help you to choose wisely. Sometimes smaller is not always the best option, sometimes it is.

Before you begin any workout or exercise regiment, you should always contact your doctor as well as a qualified instructor to ensure the best, and safest, results.

READ MORE Sunglasses Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Material type

• Lens opacity

• UV protection

• Weight

• Frame resilience

• Style

• General use, or specific circumstance (driving, boating, pure fashion, etc)

One of the most noticeable and therefor important fashion accessory, a good pair (or twelve!) of sunglasses is a must have. They can absolutely make or break the wearer's look; choosing the most appropriate pair for the situation is incredibly important, and taking your cues from popular culture and trends can give you a headstart.

From rockstars and actors, to politicians and international personalities, men and women around the globe have turned their fashion disasters into the most glamorous style statements by simply donning the right pair of ultra-modish sunglasses. Sunglasses play an anchor role in either stylizing or spoiling a wearer's look. Where on one hand a pair of chic and stylish sunglasses will fashion you up ala Lady Gaga, on the other hand choosing the wrong pair can lead to a major fashion faux pas. All the global market leaders in eyewear create distinctive sunglasses every season of the year to suit the taste of the modern as well as the traditional style-conscious men and women. To help you make the right decision for you, we have prepared a list of some of the most traditionally preferred sunglasses for the sophisticated gentlemen and fashionistas out there to flaunt their flair for sunglasses.

Timelessly classic Aviators

A classic pair of Aviator sunglasses has always been on the top of the list of the most stylish sunglasses for both men and women alike. A mirrored pair of Aviator sunglasses should be the first addition to your collection of edgy and classy sunglasses. With their archetypal legacy, they redefine the old world charm. The tear-drop shaped lenses, a sleek metal frame and mirrored lenses come together to create this symbol of vintage mod. From the greatest Hollywood actors Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp and Jessica Alba, to Bollywood superstars Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone - one and all of these stylish celebrities have been spotted wearing a classic pair of Aviator sunglasses. They are available in a variety of dazzling and vibrant shades, as also the perennial black. If you plan to join the fraternity of celebrities who flaunt their favorite Aviator sunglasses, remember that Ray-Ban is the global leader when it comes to Aviators since they were originally created by their parent company Bausch and Lomb way back in 1937.

Retro cat-eye

No other pair of sunglasses can evoke the retro feel and old world charm better than cat-eye sunglasses. Quirky, free-spirited and non-conformist in their appeal, they have the power to evoke the 70's and 80's retro look. As the name suggests, the shape of the lenses imitates the shape of the cat eyes. With vibrant as well as soft colored lenses, they are meant for the traditional man and woman who like to carry a retrogressive style statement. And our celebrities across borders are head over heels crazy for these smashing sunglasses. So, even when all your colleagues and friends are busy running after the latest fashion trends, you should invest in a stylish pair of retro cat-eye sunglasses and later on make them envy your effortless style statement.

Chic and round

Even if you were not fond of geometrical shapes in your school days, now is the time to pay attention to one of them, as they have become a rage in the fashion eyewear industry. Chic, vintage and classy in their appeal, the round sunglasses have come back with a bang into the eyewear industry. As the name suggests, round sunglasses are categorized and defined by their round shaped lenses, with the lenses available in a variety of vivid as well as soft colors. John Lennon, the global iconic singer from the Beatles immortalized the classic round glasses in the mind of the public.

These are obviously just a tiny starting point of what's out there. At the end of the day, your glasses are going to be a very visible statement to the world so choose wisely - and have fun doing it!

READ MORE 4k Television Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Source material – is it 4k

• Size of TV desired

• Distance from view point to screen

• Refresh rate

• Display type – OLED vs LED

• Dynamic range and black levels

• Color and clarity

• # and types of inputs

• Integrated speakers or not

• Curved vs flat display

• Location – wall mounted or stand

What To Look For When Buying a 4K TV

4K TV sets are starting to become the norm for the way we watch TV. It's the heir apparent to Full HD and it does a fantastic job of improving on 1080p - by a lot. Here's what you need to know when buying a 4K TV.

What is 4K resolution and Why is it the Future?

In technical terms, 4K resolution is 4096 x 2160 pixels. To put it bluntly, that's a LOT of pixels. In fact, it's 8 million more pixels than 1080p resolution. All these pixels mean more information can be put into a single image, which in turn produces a sharper, crisper image. This, of course, means a better viewing experience.

So why can't buying a 4K TV be as easy to understand as this?

Because Manufacturers Use UHD and 4K Interchangeably

You may have heard of the term "UHD" (ultra high-definition) before. Its resolution is 3840 x 2160. This is the common resolution of most 4K TVs. Understand that 4K is really only used in movie theaters and not a lot of TVs have true 4K resolution. So when you're hit with the terms "4K", "UHD", or "4K UHD", remember that they are all the same.

What Do I Need for 4K TV?

Luckily for you, 4K TV sets are finally getting some love. Services like Netflix and Youtube offer 4K streaming to take advantage of all those extra pixels. However, if you still use cable or satellite, the TVs will still show you 1080p content. No service provider has so far offered any UHD channels, but this should change in a couple of years. Basically, if you don't use online streaming and just stick to cable, you're better off continuing to use that 1080p TV.

What 4K TV Size Do I Need?

This is what might be the most important aspect of buying a 4K TV that you need to pay attention to. If you get the wrong TV size, you will never notice the difference in pixel density on a 4K screen. Here's some homework to do. Whip out a ruler and measure the distance from where your TV will be and how far you'll sit from it. Say you'll sit about 6 feet from the TV. Then you'll need at least a 50-inch screen to appreciate all the goodness and glory 4K is. The basic rule of thumb is, the farther you sit, the bigger the screen. If you have to go for a smaller size, be prepared to sit closer to the TV to really see the difference between 4K and 1080p.

Materials? Brands? Anything Else I Need To Know?

OLED (organic light-emitting diode screens) displays are better than LCD screens, as they produce a higher range of colors. More colors = better quality. The best screens have HDR (high dynamic range), which brings out more detail in pure black or white spaces, which again leads to better quality. A screen with HDMI 2.0 (the newest standard for HDMI cables) will play videos at 60 frames per second, resulting in smoother playback. All these features are what makes a 4K TV different from another.

Some of the top 4K TV brands to look at are Samsung, Panasonic, LG, and Sony. There are others that fly below the radar with some really quality screens, but you don't want to go for a total unknown.

And lastly, 4K technology is really starting to take off. While it's slowly gaining in popularity, it still has some ways to go before it completely replaces 1080p. Good luck when buying your 4K TV.

READ MORE Dart Sets Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Barrel material and texture

• Shaft material and resilience

• Spinning shaft or fixed

• Weight

• Tip material

• Flight type (standard or slim)

Whether you are just beginning to play darts for fun, or you are looking to participate in competitions, buying the right dart set can make a great deal of difference. With variations in material, weight, size, and design, how you play can be a serious determining factor in your selection process. By examining the pros and cons of various designs, you can select a set that will serve you well for years to come.

Barrels

The barrel is the portion of the dart you grip when you throw it. The textured lines, also referred to as the knurling, can vary from heavy to non-existent. The heavier the knurling, the easier it is to grip the dart. It does increase the chance of the dart sticking to your fingers on the release, however, which may affect overall accuracy.

Barrels are predominately made of nickel, brass, or tungsten, they can be made of other materials as well. Tungsten, generally the more expensive option, allows for a heavier dart in a smaller form when compared to nickel or brass, making tight groupings easier through less bulk. Though nickel and brass will wear faster than tungsten, they can be a good choice if price is a factor.

The majority of the weight in a dart is in the barrel. Measured in grams, they tend to range between 12g and 50 g. Determining which barrel weight is best often requires handling the dart, unless you are very experienced. When examining weight and knurling, it is best to go with what feels right over anything else.

Shafts

The shaft connects to the barrel, extending the length of the dart. Available in multiple materials, the most economical options are made of plastics. They can be found in an assortment of colors, though can be prone to breakage. Improving over plastic, aluminum shafts are more likely to bend than break, and can often be straightened for continued use. Also available in many colors and designs, they are easy to use for a personalized look, but repeated bending may affect overall performance over time.

Carbon-fiber shafts have the strength of aluminum, but eliminate the risk of bending. This can lead to higher accuracy over the life of your dart. Spinning shafts are also a newer option. Though they sound fancy, spinning shafts only allow the flight to rotate freely, reducing torn flights when darts contact.

Flights

Connected to the dart through notches in the shaft, flights help provide stability to your dart when it is airborne. They are predominately available in two shapes, standard and slim, and the surface can range from smooth to dimpled. Similar to barrel selection, it is often best to try various flight designs until you find one that suits your style.

READ MORE UPS Battery Backup Buying Guide

Pay attention to…

• Power required

• Outlets required (type & number)

• Type of UPS system desired

• Peripheral device support

• Software interface needs

• Space available

• Weight of Unit

• Time battery can support devices attached

Sudden power outages can not only cause data loss, but they can also damage electronic devices that are plugged in. The presence of an adequate battery backup, though, can minimize the effects of brownouts, blackouts and other types of power supply issues.

Types of UPS Units

Battery backups via uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units provide power long enough to save data and turn off devices gracefully. There are three overall types of UPS units, the differences generally reflected in the price. The standby types of units are usually the most economical. With this type, power switches to battery within milliseconds when primary power is lost. The switch is fast enough to be safe for the electronics connected.

With the line-interactive types of units, the presence of a transformer makes the switch to battery power go even more smoothly. The price is nominally higher for these units. The much more expensive online UPS type of unit supplies direct power to devices from a continually-charged battery, meaning there is no switch over if external power is lost.

Estimating Required Power

Estimating the amount of power the UPS will need is another important step in choosing a product. The estimate helps in narrowing the choices to those capable of producing sufficient power to accommodate all necessary devices. The easiest way to get an estimate is to look at the power rating for the devices that will use the UPS. A power rating of 350w, for example, is common for desktop computers and servers. Remember to add the power requirements of any monitors or peripheral devices the UPS will also have to support.

Although the devices will not require a constant supply of the total watts calculated, the most conservative final estimate will include the maximum wattage for all connected devices. That anticipated total power load multiplied by 1.6 yields an approximate VA rating. VA is the unit of measure for the capacity of UPS products. Battery backup systems for everyday consumers start with entry-level units that feature about 450VA.

Specifications to Consider

Aside from the VA specification of the UPS units, the products have other features to keep in mind. The number of outlets provided is often among the most crucial. Note that there is a difference between surge-protected outlets on a UPS and those designated as battery protected. Only those designated as battery or battery/surge outlets will receive battery power in the event of a power failure.

Some products include protection for phone lines, modems and routers, but be sure to calculate the power needs for these items if they are to be included in the final configuration. If a unit includes a software interface, be sure that the computer handling that task has an operating system that is compatible with the product. Mac OSX and Linux users, for example, might have difficulty with software made for Windows OS users. Depending on the space planned for the UPS, it might also be necessary to review the dimensions and weight of products under consideration.

Final checklist:

• Power required

• Outlets required

• Type of UPS desired

• Peripheral device support desired

• Software interface desired

• Space and weight considerations

• Budget considerations

READ MORE Video Game Console Shopping Guide

Pay attention to…

• Type of games played

• Connections

• Number and variability of games

• Controller types

• Media playing and storage

• Web enabled content

• Exclusivity of titles

• Backwards compatibility

• Social and online options

• Number of controllers / players

So what will it be - Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, something else? Or are you more of a casual gamer and just want to bring it out when friends are over? It's plain to see that there is no “go to” video game console for everyone; there are simply too many options to consider one clearly superior over the other in all circumstances. The important thing when making the decision to buy a game platform is that you should think about exactly what you're going to use it for, and who will be playing.

An incredibly important aspect to think about when making a purchase is what sort of games you want to play. There are specific games that are only available on certain platforms, and if you want to play any of them you need to be aware of this in advance. For example, if you're a fan of first person shooters your best bet will be the Xbox One according to most players. The ever-famous Halo series is only playable on an Xbox - it simply is not available elsewhere. The RPG ‘Fable’ is another example of an Xbox exclusive game. The PlayStation 4 houses many stand-alone games if you prefer these instead of series, with the exception of the Final Fantasy legacy and a few others. Downloadable content will range between all the consoles, but it will always exist and be a component on some level. Some game developers will produce for all platforms, however offer more DC packs for a specific game store which can vastly change the overall life and playability of a game.

With similar graphics engines on both the Xbox and PlayStation, it truly boils down to what sort of gamer you are. PlayStation users tend to be broad players who dabble in a little bit of everything, while Xbox users prefer an action based combat oriented experience. Wii fans are usually light-hearted more casual gamers, and just want to have fun without getting too intense.

One of the pressing concerns occupying more and more of the decision process is online playtime. A console like the Xbox One offers a wide variety of online games, however to actually get online in the 1st place you will need to pay a subscription fee. The PlayStation 4 also offers some online game play, although not as immense, and there is no subscription requirement to play it online. The same goes for the Wii U.

The current gaming systems that are out are mostly similar in price. They essentially all offer similar extra qualities aside from gaming like streaming video, an in-game store, social components, etc. There are few requirements aside from online passes, an HD TV, and some free time. Personal preference will be your guide towards choosing the right system for you and your family.

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