Alienware 17″ Laptop Review

Our family recently got to try out the new Alienware 17″ i7 (7th gen core) gaming laptop.   (model AAW17R4-7002SLV-PUS).   This machine is all that and then some.   Alienware, if you are not familiar, is an off-shoot from Dell and is considered the ultimate in gaming computers.

Specs on this bad boy:

  • Graphics Processor NVIDIA GTX 1060 processor
  • 8GB RAM (a bit low, I would have preferred a beefier 16GB)
  • 1 TB HDD (Unfortunately not a SSD, but still GREAT size)
  • 17.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits Display
  • Windows 10 Operating System; Silver (we upgraded ours to 10Pro)
  • 3 USB ports
  • Weight, a very chunky 9.7 pounds
  • Dimensions 13 x 16.7 x 1.2 inches
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2/23/17

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One minute is not enough!

2017-02-21-15-28-07This week I was requested to do something a little different from reviewing.   I was asked to make a product demo video, the only stipulation being that it must be under one minute.

Challenge accepted!

The product in question was an ocean wave projection light, that also doubled as a sound machine / speaker.  It also came with a remote control.  PLUS it had two cords, and an sd card reader.    Whew, that’s a lot.

Try as I might I couldn’t adequately describe the item and all it’s features in just a minute. Turns out I really needed closer to 3 to 4 minutes.  What I did to try to make the most of short video time I had is that I shot two separate videos, one demonstrating the product and one talking about the product.   The first video of the light projection I muted and put as an inset video in the second one where I explained the features.   Still, that was not enough to get across all the details.   So I added some still shots of the controls, labeled them and slapped those in the video too. There is a lot packed in to this one minute video, and I think it might be the busiest 1 minute video ever.

I hope they like it!

How to get into reviewing, part 2.

coupon clubMy original post about how to get into reviewing was (and remains) quite popular but it occurs to me that I should write an update, as the reviewing world has changed drastically since that post with Amazon’s TOS changing.

If you have not done so already, familiarize yourself with Amazon’s new reviewing policies if you are going to review primarily on Amazon.

There are still other sites you can review on besides Amazon.   Xberts, Fat Wallet and Slick Deals come to mind.   And probably the best way to review is on other social media or your own blog.  Admittedly, getting into reviewing now is hard if you don’t already have a large audience or a solid reviewing reputation.   Everyone has to start somewhere though.

Here is my advice then for starting out:

  1. Review all items you bought where you bought it (if you bought it on Amazon, review it on Amazon).   Amazon now limits the number of reviews per week you can do for items not purchased through your site.   You can review 5 items per week, but it might be worth it to do that.   I focus a lot on Amazon, because it takes so much of the retail spotlight these days, who DOESN’T shop at Amazon?
  2. Review your items on other social media, as well as the place you bought them.   The point of this is to begin to build an audience.   If your reviews are good, and enough people like them you will succeed.
  3. Start your own review blog in addition to your social media channels.
  4. Seek out the myriad of groups on Facebook and elsewhere that are geared towards reviewers with free giveaways or super low cost items.  If you were going to buy items anyway why not get them at a discount?
  5. Contact retailers directly and ask for samples to review.   Mention your website or number of followers if it is relevant.   You will get a lot of rejection, but every once in awhile you will get someone interested.
  6. There are also review groups out there that you can join and get free samples, although since Amazon’s TOS has changed the numbers have reduced.   But doing an online search you can find others out there.   Green mom’s review is one that would appeal to a niche audience, for example.  Some of these review outlets have stricter requirements than others so do your research.   Amazon continues their own reviewer’s club, but it is strictly invitation only.
  7. Work as hard at building your audience as you do at leaving reviews.  Consider being a niche reviewer of one type of product and become an expert in that arena.

 

Instagram for reviews

instagram-1581266_1920I like reviewing on Instagram because it’s such an easy way to review.   I use Instagram as a supplement to my other Amazon Vine reviews or my YouTube reviews.  I don’t have a huge following on Instagram, but it’s so easy to send photos there that I already have on hand from the main review process I don’t know why you wouldn’t consider it.

The main advantage/drawback to Instagram is that you can only post to it via mobile device, which can be a bit limiting.  At first this was a huge mental hurdle for me, but now I am quite accustomed to it, and I have even linked other social media outlets to Instagram via IFTTT, so posts I make to Instagram can auto post across the rest of my platforms.  You can also do this kind of thing with Hootsuite which I am a HUGE fan of as well.   Hootsuite works with Instagram, but you still have to manually post all Instagram via your mobile. Still, using these tools is a huge time saver, and I highly recommend employing one or both of them.

Gaining followers on Instagram is not as easy as it is on Pinterest or Twitter, but if you spend time on there on a regular basis, you can gather a following.   It requires a lot of liking other people’s posts, posting regularly, commenting on other’s posts and befriending other people.   Basically networking!  I don’t have the kind of time to spend on my own Instagram, but I do manage other Instagram accounts as part of my job, and with those I do put in the effort and it does show.

Instagram is also the most visually appealing of all the social media outlets.   I like it even more than Pinterest which sometimes seems a bit cluttered looking.   Instagram is very simplistic and clean looking.   Definitely worth a look I’d say!

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Walmart ends Shipping Pass

I got this message in my inbox this morning: untitled

I had written a blog piece a few weeks ago comparing Amazon’s Prime and Walmart’s Shipping Pass.  Prime won that head to head match up, but now it looks like Walmart has changed tactics and is offering anyone free 2 day shipping with orders over $35, no fees required.    It’s not hard to find $35 worth of items to buy, but I was using this service quite a bit and all my orders were under $35.    I guess people like me make the program not profitable.

To follow or not to follow

If you are trying to build your social media network on Twitter, you may wonder whether you should follow back people who follow you, not follow back, or only follow back a handful of people who follow you who you are truly interested in following.

The answer is that there is no answer.    It all boils down to what your social media goals are and your own personality.

It breaks down this way:

  • If you follow back everyone who follows to you, you will gain followers fast.    Some people (especially on Twitter) only follow to gain followers in return.   These followers are not typically engaged at all, they are just padding your overall numbers. That being said, ‘number padding’ does have some benefits, but not in terms of true reach and engagement.   There is also a school of thought that says it’s always polite to follow back those who take the time to follow you, but on Twitter I don’t necessarily believe this is so.   When a complete stranger follows you, there is no expectation of a follow back from anyone.  Twitter is fairly impersonal.
  • If you only follow back a few choice people, this will lead to moderate increases in followers. Many people who follow you will quickly unfollow you when you don’t reciprocate.  Others may be following you because they are truly interested in what you are posting.  This is the middle road approach, and has the benefits of growing your numbers and having a more engaged audience.
  • If you never follow back, it will be difficult to gain a large base of followers, but your engagement levels and influence will likely be higher.

There is no one right philosophy to employ, and no set etiquette in regards to following and following back on Twitter.

 

 

Ad Sense Sucks

grunge-wallI have a YouTube account, which I monetized back in October.   For those that don’t know, you can monetize your YouTube videos by allowing ads.   You get a small payment for every 1,000 views.  Over time it adds up, then when you hit $100, you can get a check sent to you. However, that has not been my experience to date.

I hit my $100 threshold in December.   I was very excited.   But in reading further, YouTube does not pay you.  Instead you have to get an Ad Sense account, and then THEY will pay you at the $100 threshold.   Ok, fine.   So I signed up for an Ad Sense account.   Ad Sense only showed $60 in my account, which was not what YouTube showed.   After poking around the Ad Sense forums, it seemed like the consensus is that Ad Sense’s data lags behind YouTube, and furthermore they only pay out at certain times of the month.  Be patient is the advice.  Ok fine.

Finally the day arrived, they showed a $122 balance.  I could get paid!   But wait!   When poking around more on Ad Sense trying to find out when and how that would happen, I discover I needed to submit some information to the IRS before they would issue payment.  Ok fine.   I enter my information, it’s not too hard – they want your name, SSN, address and things like that.  Nothing hard at all, I was pleasantly surprised.    I enter my information and submit…. and I get an error.   Says IRS could not verify my information and it would be manually checked. Then a day later an email arrives, saying my request was denied.  I went through this several times, all with the same result.   I tried adding a middle initial.  Same thing.  I was not given a reason why they would not accept my information, and no help to fix things so they would accept it.

So now I’m very frustrated, and the forums are not helpful with this question.  I need to speak with (or at least email) an Ad Sense customer service rep.  Guess what?  You can’t.   You can’t because no such people exist, according to the forum I consulted.   They do not have people on staff.   You have to rely on the forums.    They are the only company in the world that does not have a help desk.   And they are screwing me out of money.   And this is why they suck.

So if you are thinking about monetizing your YouTube account, be prepared for frustration, and general suckiness.

UPDATE- a week after I posted this, the IRS magically accepted my information from Ad Sense and they cut me a check (which has not arrived as of this update).   I don’t know why suddenly they accepted my information after the 30th time entering it the same way, but I guess the lesson to all is just keep persevering.   Ad Sense came up a notch, but I am still shocked that they don’t have any customer service to speak of beyond user forums.