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Welcome to "Ask Scott First"

Real Unbiased Product Reviews

Our goal is to help you find the best products in a variety of categories, through our own research and first hand experience. If you have any products you intend to purchase but would like to have them researched and reviewed, please contact us. We would love to help you find the best products available.




Pioneer VSX-LX504 9.2-ch Network AV Receiver Review

I bought a new 4k television. A little late to the party, but my old 58″ plasma lasted a long time. I didn’t realize I would have to change out my receiver to be able to handle 4k, so I went searching online and doing research like I always do on AVR’s, A/V receivers. First I had to put together the list of things I wanted to see from my new receiver.

1: Power/Bi-Amping: Enough power to send my stereo setup RTi A9 Polk towers. Bi-Amp capable so I could push more focused power to my speakers.

2: Quality/Longevity: My last receiver lasted 9 years and had little to no problems.

3: Modern Technology: Dolby Atmos Upmixing, WiFi enabled w/future firmware updates, Apple AirPlay 2, DTS:X Next Gen Codec, HDMI HDCP 2.3, Bluetooth 4.2, HDR10

4: Moderately Priced: I had a $1000 to spend on a receiver.

In my reading, video watching and word of mouth communication with local friends and family, I found that Denon and specifically the 4500H was the most suggested. It was slightly out of my budget and definitely has a large history of breaking within a couple years. Every friend and family member I know, with even higher priced models have continual problems with Denon which wasn’t promising. My parents have gone through 3, brothers in-laws have gone through 2 and a best friend has gone through 2. Not promising for the supposed “Best” receiver brand.

As I looked around at Marantz, Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo I thought to myself what makes a quality amplifier in other applications? Weight was something that came to mind, as the more weight of an amplifier usually the better quality the power supply, heat-sink and capacitors would be. Most of the receivers landed at about 22-25 pounds and then I found the Pioneer Receiver VSX-LX504 among the list of the best under $1500 lists and it was priced at $1000, offered all of the features I wanted plus more, had 120w per channel (which was the most offered in this price range) and it weighed 35 lbs. I never read a bad review about this receiver and I’ve had experience with Pioneers in the past so I gave it a chance.

I couldn’t be happier. I set the audio to Front Stage Surround and custom EQ’d the audio. At first I was a bit concerned about the volume until I found I could set the EQ properly. There’s more than enough power and I love that I can just hit play on apple music it turns on my receiver and starts playing from anywhere on my network.

My recommendation is go for the Pioneer!!!

 

Click to View Pricing

By |January 19th, 2020|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Anker Cable Reviews – Lightning, USB-C, Micro-USB, Powerline+ Reviews

Tired of wasting money buying Lightning Cables, USB-C Cables or Micro-USB Cables, like I am? Most everything available is just cheap junk from China. All of my charging cables purchased aftermarket and each one sent with every new purchase of an apple device has broken, bent, ripped to shreds and stopped working. I have bought cables that broke on the same day I received them. I know I’m tired of it. I have spent 100’s of dollars on cables and frankly I’m thankful to be done spending money on this everyday necessity.

I have been on the search for a good charging cable for my iPhone and iPad? That search led me to purchase cables through kick-starter, custom built (no-name) brands and Amazon. I can go through a list of every cable I’ve purchased but that list will get too detailed and boring.

BUY ANKER CABLES!!!! I’ll say that again buy a Lightning Cable, USB-C Cable, Micro-USB Cable or any variety from their large list of offerings that you need. You will not be disappointed. Their PowerLine+ and PowerLine+ II woven cables do not break, they simply last the test of heavy use. The PowerLine+ II is the most heavy duty of the cables so expect it to be a little stiffer than any others but they just need to be worn in a little. Dropping an iPad or iPhone while it’s still charging will not break these cables. Tripping over your cable while it’s charging a device will not break these cables. Since my purchase (I now own at least 8 cables) my entire family and at least four of my friends are full-out Anker Cable believers and won’t buy anything else.

P.S. The 10ft red cable is super easy to find because it stand out and the 10ft reaches across your bed super easily.

Anker Powerline+ II USB Lightning Cable

Click Here to See Current Pricing

Anker Powerline+ USB Type C Cable

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Anker Powerline+ Micro USB Cable

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By |January 15th, 2020|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Zacuto Camera Gear Reviews

Why buy the knock-offs if you can get the real thing.

I say it all the time when it comes to vehicles, why buy the kia/hyundai which market their vehicles as a more affordable Honda or Toyota. Just buy the better vehicle, get the Toyota or Honda and get it Certified Pre-owned. The same concept works with camera gear.

Zacuto creates high-quality production grade filmmaking gear which come with lifetime warranties on many of their offerings. Why buy camera equipment from the “alternatives” – NICEYRIGS, CAMVATE, SmallRIG, Kessler, Panasonic, Red or SHAPE? Stick with the best and you get what you’ve paid for.

“Once you buy Zacuto you can never go back”

When you have a balanced rig setup, it frees you up to shoot with your instincts and film from your gut! It’s all in the details and that’s what separates Zacuto from the competition. With longer tracks for screws, horizontal and vertical adjustments for just about every accessory and a recessed baseplate rod mount so you get extra lens space. Their designers planned to create a universal camera baseplate that merged the stability and ease of a classic VCT with contemporary cameras and rigs. They listen to their community of photographers for critiques and imporvements on their products. What more can you ask for from a Camera Gear Company.

High Quality Products, Lifetime Warranties, Designers and Engineers who actually use their equipment in the field, Active Listening to their market community. I think the choice is Easy, choose ZACUTO for all of your production grade filmmaking gear

Zacuto VCT Pro Baseplate for All Cameras

Zacuto VCT Tripod Plate

5 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

By |August 24th, 2019|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Brightest LED Bulb Incandescent Replacement

For the last few years, I have been on a search for the brightest LED incandescent bulb replacements available on the market. Every time I have purchased LED bulbs, they end up being too dim, take a while to get to full brightness or their room coverage is poor, because they aim straight up. After multiple days worth of searching and many random bulb purchases, I came across the SANSI 27w (250 Watt Equivalent) Omni-directional Ceramic LED Light Bulb.

These LED lights, although a bit pricey are the cream of the crop as far as brightness goes. I bought one to start and never looked back, (I now have 6). They come in two different kelvin colors (3000k – yellow soft warm & 5000k Daylight white light), you have a dimmable option, they’re never too hot to touch, full brightness is instant, it shines through lampshades and the spread on each bulb is fantastic. They are the perfect replacement for bright incandescent bulbs and I no longer will be purchasing other LED bulbs. Dare I say the best part of my move toward LED lighting is the continual drop of my monthly electric bill!?!

5 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

If you are looking for a more farmhouse feel
I found (and own) LED replacement Edison dimmable bulbs - From Leools

5 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

By |April 16th, 2019|All Topics, Product Reviews|0 Comments

Yale Security YRD256-CBA-619 Yale Assure SL Connected by August Touchscreen Smart Lock, Satin Nickel Review

Yale Assure Lock w/August

5 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt

Kwikset Kevo

Friday Labs Smart Lock

I have been wanting to find a SmartLock with quality, durability, compatibility, design and consistent functionality. Having always been a fan of Schlage and Baldwin, I started there and checked out a variety of other brands including August, Kwikset, Nest, Yale and Friday.

Baldwin doesn’t make SmartLocks, Schlage has a weathering problem with rain and heat (it leaks and melts) and I live in Florida, the Friday was just plain ugly, the Kwikset lock is boring and the others, well I had to figure out compatibility-wise what I wanted. Being still undecided on if I want to use HomeKit, SmartThings, Google Home or Amazon Alexa I chose the Yale Lock w/August. The Yale Assure lock is sealed to fix Schlage’s weathering problems and they’ve been around since the 1860’s. They’ve perfected the lock and key system and August makes it usable across any of the big players for smart hubs. This decision came after a few weeks of research online and getting some real feel time on the locks at local stores.

The Actual Product Name : Yale Assure Lock SL Connected by August Touchscreen Smart Lock in Satin Nickel.

 

My initial thoughts:

I got this lock for Christmas (early). Almost returned it because I couldn’t get it to be consistent on opening and closing. I figured it was the app (nope). After 1.5 hours of it consistently locking up no matter what I tried, I decided maybe the depth of the bolt hole could be the problem. (I had tried left/right and up/down “obstruction” clearing with no avail and was done and ready to return it so this was the last straw.)

I grabbed my drill with a bit and just dug out the bolt hole so it was a bit deeper. When I went to lock the bolt by hand, I heard and felt an extra click. Since then I tried to make it lock up for 15 min pushing/pulling using the app and the keypad and it’s now working great!

Don’t give up if it’s not working it’s most likely an obstruction! Check for that extra click after you lock the deadbolt!

My initial review was 3 stars for struggling with install and the unclear wifi setup.

Four Months Later:

Now that I have had this lock installed for four months, I feel like I can honestly review it. The Yale w/August has been one of the best purchases I have made in a while. It is super convenient compared to a lock and key. I have never had a problem with disconnecting, the app opens quickly and connects quick enough for my use.

I get notifications every time the door is locked, unlocked or left opened. I made multiple codes so I can give it out if I need to. When I’m away, I can open the door for a service tech from just about anywhere. It has never gotten stuck mid lock or unlock cycle and has even been pressure washed without any issues. I don’t know why I didn’t purchase this sooner. I definitely had reservations at first but it has proven itself worth of a good review.

In the end I give this lock 5 stars

One helpful article for your own research lives here: https://www.pcmag.com/article/344336/the-best-smart-locks

By |December 22nd, 2018|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Cascade and Finish Dishwasher Detergent Reviews

Does anyone else have an issue with your dishwasher not doing a great job?

I have found that most dishwasher detergents leave dried and crusty food on my plates and leftover residue in my glasses. Overtime I have tried a few different brands, but in the last two years I have been trying both Finish and Cascade products. These are the two largest brands, as far as advertising goes, and I look forward to trying a few others. Once my giant packs are gone, I’d like to try some alternative organic dishwasher detergents or just less chemically-filled ones.

 

Cascade Platinum Actionpacs

Finish Quantum Max

Cascade Complete All-in-1 Actionpacs

Finish All in 1 Powerball


 

There are 6 standard questions that need to be answered when choosing a dishwasher detergent: clean-ability, convenience, price and do I use gels, tablets or powders? In this product overview, I am basing my reviews on clean-ability and price. Both the Cascade and Finish products I have chosen to review, fit in the convenient category and are made up of a mixture of gels, tablets and powders.

 

 

Cascade Platinum Actionpacs

4 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

My current everyday user and favorite of the four detergents is the Cascade Platinum Actionpacs. Although not a perfect dishwasher detergent, I am able to leave many dishes without major pre-rinsing procedures and I am still left with dishes that are very clean and with little to no water spots on glasses. The plates are left completely clean without any soapy residue.

As with the other detergents I am reviewing, non-stick pans are left with an oil residue that must be rinsed or cleaned off after the dishwasher cycle. However, the Cascade Platinum Actionpacs left the least amount of oily residue that could just be rinsed off.

At the current price of $16.99 for the 64 ct box, these actionpacs are .27 cents a piece.

 

 

Cascade Complete All-in-1 Actionpacs

3.5 out of 5 stars

Scott’s Rating

I found that the Cascade Complete Actionpacs did an average job at cleaning my dishes. Pots and pans continued to see oil residue, glasses continued to see water spots and if my dishes were not pre-rinsed they were left with hard crusty food that had dried and stuck to each dish.

At the current price of $17.42 for the 80 ct box, these actionpacs are .22 cents a piece.

By |June 29th, 2016|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Nizoral and Head&Shoulders Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Reviews

I have been fighting a scalp with dandruff, scabbing and itchiness for at least 15 years now. I have spent hundreds of dollars on any and every type of shampoo I can get a hold of for anti-dandruff purposes. Organic shampoos, cheap shampoos, expensive shampoos, apple cider vinegar shampoos, super oily shampoos and dry ones. My scalp has caused me to not go get haircuts because it made me feel gross for so long. White flakes everywhere, oily scabs, it makes me cringe just typing this out haha. After many years of research I have finally found “one” that works for me. Sadly, it is only one but I won’t complain because it really works.

I’m sure almost everyone has heard of Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue, but I assume what is unknown is the main active ingredients that are found in the main popular anti-dandruff shampoos. Head & Shoulders has Sodium Sulfate and Zinc Carbonate and Selsun Blue has Selenium Sulfide. Almost every other “not as marketed” brand has the same three ingredients as Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue. But there is another Anti-Dandruff ingredient called Ketoconazole that is only found in one brand of shampoo called Nizoral. It is less known and not nearly as marketed, but let me tell you it works. Finally something works, this is literally miracle shampoo hahaha.

I do believe however that everyone’s body and skin are different so I encourage you to check out all three of the main shampoos and see which one works for you.

The Big Three Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

Nizoral
Nizoral
Nizoral
5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating

 

Head & Shoulders
Head & Shoulders
Head & Shoulders
2.5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating

 

Selsun Blue
Selsun Blue
Selsun Blue
3.5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating

Shampoos I tried during my 15+ years of testing process:

  • Pura D’or Argan Oil Premium Organic Shampoo Scalp & Dandruff Treatment
  • Natural First Apple Cider Vinegar “Orange Blossom” Clarifying Shampoo
  • JF Lazartigue Micro-Pearl Shampoo
  • Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo
  • Garnier Fructis Dry Scalp Shampoo Anti-dandruff
  • Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo
  • Herbal Essences
  • Suave
  • Dove
  • And so many more I can’t even count….

Leave a comment below let me know which one works for you or if there is any other shampoo that has worked for you. I’d love to hear your story.

By |June 13th, 2016|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Knork Flatware Stainless 18/10 w/Nickel Reviews

A few months ago I wrote about flatware and how to choose the right type amidst the many varieties of metal types. I did end up buying the Knork set in 18/10 stainless with nickel. This came after much research into brands and lots of reading of reviews to find that the 18/10 was significantly better for dishwasher use than the standard 18/0. I have been using them now for 2-3 months and can truly say I love this flatware. Hands down these are my favorite to-date. I love the weightiness of each utensil, it feels so well made and there is no way you could bend or break one in any regular use. The forks have a scoop shape to them and thin edges, so they can be used as a fork and a knife (this is actually a really cool design element). Almost every person that comes over and tries out my flatware has high compliments on how well made, sturdy and versatile they are. I would highly recommend that you get yourself a set of the Knork flatware line. They even offer a trial fork so you can test it out.

I’d also like to add that even if you decided against purchasing Knork because it is “just not your style,” buy the 18/10 stainless with nickel of any flatware you purchase. Definitely worth the upgrade you won’t be disappointed.

knork
Click Here to see pricing

Knork is now offering black titanium and copper titanium versions that are not made from 18/10. Which would just need a little more care around the dishwasher but still worth it.

By |June 12th, 2016|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, All-One Hemp Peppermint Review

Soap Gives Me Dry Skin!

I purchased this soap when I was searching to find a product that doesn’t dry out my skin. I have used many different body washes and bar soaps ranging in cost from cheap to expensive and both chemical filled and organic natural soaps. I have been unable to find a soap that will not dry out my skin until I found Dr. Bronner’s. I often have issues with my underarm skin drying out and becoming excessively itchy. It is incredibly a horrible experience to be itching your underarms all the time haha.

But I am loving the Dr. Bronner’s soap. It does not dry out my skin. I have had no itching at all. Have had little to no use for skin moisturizers. The peppermint has a light cooling feeling kind of like tea tree but lighter and leaves me feeling cooler body temperature-wise after a shower. Showers have made me sweat for years and I have very much enjoyed using this new soap because of these reasons. Dr. Bronner’s does offer Eucalyptus and Hemp Rose as alternatives to peppermint that I can’t wait to try.

It is a little more costly than say Dove soap for men, but it has good ingredients. It is definitely worth the cost when you see your skin and the cost savings from much less moisturizers. They sell this soap at Trader Joes locally, but here is a link to the product on Amazon.

Dr. Bronner’s
Magic Soaps Pure-Castile Soap, All-One Hemp Peppermint, 5-Ounce Bars.


4.5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating

Dr. Bronner’s
Pure-Castile Bar Soap – Almond, 5 oz (2 Pack)


5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating
My Favorite Version

Dr. Bronner’s
Pure-Castile Bar Soap Variety Gift Pack– 5oz, 6 Pack


4.5 out of 5 stars
Scott’s Rating

Leave comments if you have tried this soap. I’d love to know what your experience was….

By |June 9th, 2016|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Bone China: Dinnerware Review of Noritake

Ever consider buying new dinnerware for your home?

Well I was sick of my cheap old plates that I bought from Walmart 10 years ago. Every year there is one less plate or bowl from someone dropping them. So I decided to go with a more stylish Bone China as the replacement. I chose the graphite line from Noritake. I happened to get a 20% off all items at Bed Bath and Beyond in the mail, rather than the single item coupon so I took advantage of it and saved some money in the process.

3 months later…

After having used this dinnerware for some time now, there are definitely pros and cons but I’ll start with the pros. The color is great, the shape is unusual compared to a standard round plate but I really find it easy to deal with for cleaning sake. They are sturdy, well built and would be tough to break (yes I have dropped a plate it did not break).

However there are quite a few cons with the Noritake set. The price for a set of 4 is definitely too much in my opinion at $40. There is a lot of inconsistency in the color along the edges of the plates (meaning to many defects in the design work). I have found that the bowls get super hot when you put soup inside them and they stay hot for a really long time. This could be a good thing if you want your soup to stay hot for a longer period of time. The big beef I have is the coffee/tea mug condensates with cold and hot drinks. This is very annoying and I don’t enjoy using the mugs because of this.

Truth be told, I like the set but I would search for another brand/type of dinnerware if I hadn’t already dropped 100’s of dollars on a 12 piece set of the Noritake dinnerware. Quality control just wasn’t good enough and the condensation of the cups and super hot bowls annoy me to no end.

 

If you were/are going to be buying any new dinnerware, what would you buy? Leave a comment!

I’m always interested in seeing what is available and what interests people.

noritake

What is Bone China?

When making bone china, calcified bone is used as a refractory material and the firing temperature is lower. Bone china is usually thinner and the glaze is smoother than porcelain china. The glaze, however, is not as durable as porcelain china since it is softer. “Bone china” starts the same way as porcelain china but includes an extra ingredient, bone ash. This is a white powdery substance and the byproduct of incinerated animal bone. Bone ash gives the body of the plate a unique milky white color. Bone ash adds translucency to the body of the dinnerware, and makes the dish stronger by making it softer. It’s true! By making the dinnerware less brittle, the bone ash makes it more resilient and less likely to break.

Check Out Noritake Bone China

 

By |February 27th, 2016|Product Reviews|0 Comments

Flatware: Stainless or 18/10 or titanium or ????

I was looking at buying some new silverware/flatware for my house because somehow my spoons seem to be magically disappearing. (I think my old roommate lost a bunch & my new roommate hides them). Although my friends tend to through them in the fire pit occasionally as well.

Moving on, I did some basic research online and learned that gaining knowledge before a purchase of forks and knives is worth it. Buying flatware can be overwhelming quickly because there are so many varieties to choose from. Copper plated, gold plated, stainless, stainless w/nickel (18/10) and titanium. I’m sure there is more, but that is what I found immediately on my entrance into the abyss of utensils.

knorkThrough my research I learned that if you want to use the dishwasher, than it’s a good idea to throw out the idea of all plated materials and just buy stainless 18/10. 18/10 stands for 18% stainless steel(chromium) and 10% nickel. I found that almost everyone who went and bought standard stainless flatware or plated flatware were complaining in review after review. “My forks were ruined after 2 months of using the dishwasher,” “eating food with lemon juice changed the color of my spoons” etc….

Stainless steel with nickel although more costly can result in much less buyer remorse and greater longevity of happiness with your forks, knives and spoons.

In the end I’m looking at buying from Knork. What do you think? (Picture above)

 

By |January 27th, 2016|General Discussion|0 Comments

Rosemary chicken marinade

Rosemary ChickenOne of the best marinades for chicken ever:

A bunch of fresh rosemary chopped up

Dijon mustard

Olive oil

Sriracha

Honey

Fresh ground pepper

Salt

let it marinate for at least 5 hours 24 is the best.

By |March 5th, 2016|Recipes|0 Comments

Authentic Chinese Food Recipes

Gyozas (Potstickers)

Filling Ingredients

1 lb  ground pork
1 large egg
1 TB spoon sesame oil
2 TB spoon soy sauce
1 TB spoon white wine
Lots of Green onion all chopped up
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
Shake garlic powder or fresh garlic chopped

Dipping Sauce
Soy
Sesame Oil
Rice Wine vinegar
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Ginger

Skins

Package of “Twin Dragon” Gyoza Skins

 

 

Pork spring rolls

Carrots
Beansprouts
Cabbage
Ground pork
Soy Sauce
Oyster sauce

Mix and refrigerate all ingredients
 
White wine
Sukiyaki to taste
Teriyaki to taste
Garlic powder

Spring Roll Wrappers

 

Chicken and peanuts

2lbs chicken
1/2 cup peanuts
1 teaspoon ginger
Then
Soak chicken in
1 1/2 TB cornstarch
1 1/2 TB cold water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

After it has been cooked:
2 Tablespoon soy
1 Tablespoon wine
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame

By |March 4th, 2016|Recipes|0 Comments

Bacon-Wrapped, Egg-Stuffed Avocado (WOW!)

On my Facebook stream I saw a new food item I have to try, Bacon-Wrapped, Stuffed Avocados. Is that statement even real haha. There is a video below of after it’s been cooked.

The link is step by step pictures on the process. Recipe Recreation →

By |March 4th, 2016|Recipes|0 Comments

Sauces

Got a new book today.

Sauces
“Classical and contemporary Sauce Making”
by James Peterson

I look forward to trying out some new sauces to up my cooking game.

I want to start experimenting with the french mother sauces.

 

The 5 French Mother Sauces

1. Béchamel (White Roux + Milk + Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg)

2. Velouté (White Roux + White Sauce)

3. Espagnole (Brown Sauces)

4. Sauce Tomate

5. Hollandaise

By |March 2nd, 2016|General Discussion|0 Comments