Ten years later, I still use Wii Fit Plus

And so we reach the jump from CrunchGear to TIME, circa 2010.

If you’ve been following the Greatest Hits videos here, we’ve now reached the point where I left CrunchGear for TIME, which was less fun but more money.

My videos got better, too. They were supposed to be. They didn’t get great – still haven’t – but I’ve been told that’s part of the charm.

Anywell, here’s my Wii Fit Plus review. I still go on little Wii Fit Plus kicks every now and then. I’m looking at my Balance Board right now. However, watching this 10 years later, I’m reminded of the old saying, “I wish I was still as thin as I was when I first thought I was getting fat.”

And if you’re looking to mix Nintendo and fitness in 2020, this isn’t the setup for you. The smart money’s on Ring Fit Adventure if you can find it in stock.

Halloween 2020: Use this Candy Cannon to hand out candy safely

You could either join all the mouth breathers trying to figure out how to disseminate candy safely this year or you could get with the program and buy this candy cannon.

And if you have a dog, bonus. Because it’s not actually a candy cannon: it’s a $20 dog tennis ball blaster from Nerf.

Now, I’ve tested this thing with various types of candy. Good candy. Like, name brand candy. Don’t be a cheapskate. Don’t be that house in the neighborhood. Here’s what works well.

Fun-size Snickers: great. Fun-size Milky-Way: also great. M&Ms: very cool if they come out right. Like some sort of majestic helicopter blade that melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

Kit Kat. Not good. Not good at all. Do not – I repeat – do not shoot Kit Kat’s out of this thing. They’re fragile. What should do with Kit Kats? Set them aside and shove them down your gullet on November 1st like a normal person. Kit Kats are delicious. Keep them for yourself.

The Candy Cannon – er, Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster – costs $20. You can buy it here.


The time I kind of made a gadget review TV show

Ah, Time for Gadgets! we hardly knew ye. It was a dead-ass giveaway within the first 30 seconds when I said I have a problem following through with things.

And so, what was a surprisingly watchable 10 minutes of episodic content only saw one episode. I vaguely remember this taking a very minimal amount of preparation and a tiny bit longer to put together than a standalone video, which were two factors that ensured I never did it again.

It’s a shame, though, because for 2009, this feels like a web show that could have had legs. I’ll give it a 9 out of 10.

A mini USB monitor in the hot, hot heat

Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats reviewing gadgets in the dead of a Boston summer from the inside of a brick building with no air conditioning.

I’m actually pleasantly surprised that despite how hot it was (I remember how hot it was when making this video even though it was 11+ years ago), I don’t seem to be totally melting on-screen.

I also remember how much I loved having a second screen that could travel. Back in the day, tech blogging from a laptop was basically having a web browser open on one side of your screen and your blogging software open on the other. But – BUT! – screens were still so low-res that it was exceedingly difficult to fit everything well. High-res screens were insanely expensive, so little monitors like this one were a godsend.

Of course, these USB monitors have come a long way. Today, you can get this 15.6-inch version for $100 or a full-HD version for $150. Of course, lugging around a 15.6-inch screen kind of defeats the purpose, but I believe I reviewed something similar to the $100 version at some point in time and came away impressed.

Review of the above review: 6 out of 10. Points for general nonsense. Negative points for length and sloppy audio-visual quality.

Saying goodbye to my favorite computer in the history of computing

I still, to this day, miss this computer. It haunts my dreams, my nightmares, and my waking hours.

If you’re viewing this on a laptop right now, it’s possible that it’s still not as small and light as the Sony Vaio X was – and the above video was shot in January of 2010. It belongs in the computing hall of fame.

Reviewing my review, let’s go with a strong 7.5 out of 10. It’s not an actual review – the real review still lives here – but I ad-libbed the entire thing on the spot. And in video-making land, my friends, that’s pure gold. It drove 10,000+ views and took about 10 minutes to shoot, edit, and upload.

The most boring product I ever reviewed

I’m not sure what’s going on with this video except that it’s clear I got a new camera? Maybe? Was I reviewing a camera and used it for this video?

It looks like a bad VHS tape.

I distinctly remember reviewing this iron because Panasonic either offered it to me for review or I asked them to send it to me so that I’d have an iron for the holidays. This was shot in early December of 2009, mind you. Panasonic did at least pitch me on this, although I’m certain they just wanted me to write about it without actually using it. I remember their PR person being a little puzzled when I asked her to send it to me.

As far as reviewing review videos goes, this video is like a 5 out of 10 – mostly because it sounds and looks weird. It could be argued that I saved it with some goofery up front. I remember one of the CrunchGear writers at the time, Dan Freeman, telling me I could make anything interesting.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it was nice of him to say. I also remember commenters complaining that I was reviewing an iron, so I guess things leveled out on the compliment front.

And just to shed some light on how far iron technology has (or hasn’t) come, Panasonic still sells this iron. And as irons go, it’s great. I still have mine and use it whenever I need something ironed – which is perhaps once per calendar quarter.

An energetic showcase of an overpriced Ford GT40 wireless mouse

When you’re alone in an empty apartment all day blogging about $50 mice shaped like cars, you simply must do whatever it takes to entertain and amuse yourself.

Granted, this video was shot 11+ years ago and I now have three kids and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so I haven’t been alone anywhere since… well, probably since this video. My energy levels are also *trails off incoherently*.

These Road Mice are still available today, but they’ve dipped in price slightly – although probably not as low as they should.

I’ll now review my review: I give this one a solid 8 out of 10 for punchiness, fun, and appropriate length. I didn’t know it at the time, but all these videos I did back in the day should have been two minutes long and not a second longer. I could have become known as the gadget reviewer who reviews everything in two minutes. Instead, I believe this may have been the one and only CrunchGear Two-Minute Review. My follow through was (and still is) not very good.

I did NOT care for this iPod dock very much at all

It’s hard to review a gadget and find almost nothing redeemable about it, but here we have the Vestalife Butterfly Speaker Dock for iPod.

When I first reviewed it in March of 2009, it carried an outrageous $80 price tag. It’s somehow still available – I see a used one for $10 and some new ones starting at $50.

Just in case you’re in the market for an 11-year-old iPod dock, this isn’t the one for you. Not even at $10.

As videos go, this one was pretty poor on a technical level. I think I remember shooting it later in the afternoon and the light was all weird: too much backlight, not enough key or fill light. Round it out with some echo-y audio, me aimlessly ranting for four whole minutes, and let’s give this video a 3 out of 10.

Show ’em you’re doing your part with a light-up, blinking LED mask

Let there be no – and I mean zero – doubt that you’re serious about keeping those around you safe with this $30 light-up mask.

“But Doug,” you’re saying, “How can I choose just one color? I like many, many colors!” To which I would say, “Friend. It changes colors. There are seven of them.”

“Just static colors?” you rebut. “No,” says I. “This mask friggin’ blinks five different ways.”

“How many possible combinations is that?” you ask. “Who am I? Bill Nye?” I snap. “I’m poor to quite poor at even simple math. But it’s probably 35 or so possible combinations.”

According to the description, this wonderment of technology is perfect for “raves, bars, clubs, electric glow run (?), LED parties (??), Halloween, costume parties, Mardi Gras, carnivals, gifts, masquerade and more.” I don’t know what some of those things are because I’m old and I wouldn’t recommend some of those other activities until this whole you-know-what blows over, but you get the point.

The mask takes an hour to charge and lights up for two to four hours, which seems like quite a range but, hey, you’ll be the only blinky-facey for quite some time.

LED Face Mask [Amazon]

Batter Blaster canned pancakes

Batter Blaster, we hardly knew ye. Like many of the items found in these Greatest Hits posts, Batter Blaster canned pancakes no longer exist.

It’s a shame, too, because they were basically the pancake equivalent of Egg Beaters. I eat liquid eggs regularly, not because I’m health conscious, but because I prefer omelets and I’m extremely lazy.

So just like I hate cracking eggs, beating them into a liquid, and then adding them to a pan, I equally hate dealing with pancake mix.

Were these the best tasting pancakes in the world? They were not. Were they good enough? They were.

I suppose the closest thing to Batter Blaster would be all these just-add-water pancake mixes but… hey… it’s just not the same.

As videos go, I’d give this one a 8 out of 10: okay production values offset by better-than-okay content. I remember it making my coworkers laugh, which was always a bonus, but my wife got mad at me for showing our dish-filled sink to the internet. You win some, you lose some.

Snuggie in a snowstorm

Here’s one of the rare outdoor videos from my vast (pronounced “vahst”) archive. Bloggers prefer being indoors.

Also rare – at least for these old Greatest Hits videos here: a product that still exists and is being sold in mass quantities. Ladies and gentlemen, the Snuggie.

I can’t find mine any more, and I had two of them. I do, however, still have the booklight somehow. And I’ll never part with my Jude Blume books, obviously.

Mana Health Energy Potion is a big kick in a tiny bottle

If you’ve ever downed a Five-Hour Energy or something similar in size, you’ve gotten the experience of drinking what you see me drinking here. Except for two things.

One: the taste, as I remember it (this was 11+ years ago), was great. It was like a non-alcoholic Fireball shot. Very cinnamon-y but not medicine-y like most energy drinks.

Two: it packed a wallop. I can’t remember how many shots were in the box they sent me (looks like a 12-pack) but I remember thinking that the next week or so was going to be very productive.

My plan for this review was to ham it up a bit for the camera regardless of how well this tiny energy drink actually worked – but luckily for me, it actually worked great. Unluckily for me, I think the drinks cost $3-$4 or so per shot at the time, which was too rich for my frugal blood.

And I’ll be damned, but you can still buy them now: $42 for a 12-pack right from the Mana website.

Review of the video itself: 8/10. I still laugh at the Motley Crue/Office bit.

The ahead-of-its-time Barbie Digital Nail Printer

In 2009, the Barbie Digital Nail Printer was ahead of its time. That was the first thing I learned.

The second thing I’ve learned, in retrospect, is that if you wanted your videos to get watched in 2009, you should have been reviewing Mattel stuff.

Case in point: at the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, which I covered when I was with CrunchGear, the video above of me half-assedly demonstrating a product pulled in the second most video views – roughly 46,000 – of our entire time at the show.

The most views – at 126,000 – goes to the Mattel Mindflex video we did. It was some sort of game featuring a ball that you controlled with your mind. In 2009.

So that, plus a printer that printed designs directly on your fingernails. Both by Mattel. Both in 2009. Both way ahead of their respective times.

For a bit more context, we also interviewed Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine at the show. That video got 13,000 views. Mattel wins.

The Barbie Digital Nail printer, sadly, is no longer with us but you can take a closer look at an old one in all its glory on Amazon.

And just to underscore how ahead of its time this thing was, current digital nail printers on Amazon are asking in the high hundreds to low thousands of dollars.

This Barbie video itself is not great – poor sound, shaky camerawork – but it goes to show that you don’t need a perfect video to drive views.

Over-carbonating the Penguin soda machine

Every video maker, should he or she make videos long enough, goes through phases. This video was one of the first of many in my “drum loop” phase.

People hated the drum loop. I, on the other hand, loved the drum loop. It was upbeat and fun, and it meant I didn’t have to search for different music every time I made a video.

Eventually, the people won and I killed off the drums. So my review of this video is a thumbs up for the drums and a thumbs down (each) for the lighting and sound – a total of three thumbs.

As for the soda machine, I was supplied with two CO2 cartridges and a sampler pack of sodas. Once I burned through both cartridges and all the soda flavors, that giant penguin sat in a closet in one apartment, moved to another closet in a condo, and now lives in a closet in my house.

I’m just not built for re-ordering supplies, but if I were, the line of Penguin soda machines, which I believe eventually became cheaper, smaller, and better SodaStream machines aren’t too shabby.

Oh, and it’s pop. It should be called PopStream or the Penguin Home Pop Machine.


The camera that never showed up

To this day, this is still one of the favorite videos I’ve ever made. It’s a review of nothing shot like a documentary.

It was July, 2008 and The Office was white hot.

Remember those Flip video cameras? This was the smaller version, the Flip Mino.

Apparently, it was pronounced “minnow” and I pronounced it “meeno” the whole time, so strike one. Although in my defense, it should be pronounced “meeno” – there’s a restaurant in my town called Mino’s and it’s pronounced “meenos” since that’s how English works.

Strike two was that I made some poor PR person’s life hell for a week. Not that it’s an excuse, but I hadn’t been doing this that long and I didn’t really know any better.

Strike three is my hair: a recurring bewilderment of these early videos. I have no defense or excuse.

All strikes aside, I’m rating this Greatest Hits review a 10 out of 10.

The first video review I ever made

Behold yours truly in all my prepubescent glory! This was me about a thousand cheeseburgers ago and before I discovered good beer.

For a first video review it’s decent – albeit way too long. And the quality sucks, as most digital video did back in 2007. But for someone rocking a track jacket and hair like that, I come off as confident, which generally makes for a good video. Keep in mind that this was in the early days of my blogging career before my soul was bullied into a lifeless void by blog commenters and people on Twitter.

I knew nothing about lighting or sound – but in my defense I only know very little about lighting or sound now.

I made this video for CrunchGear, which no longer exists, which was part of TechCrunch, which still does exist. To this day, it was still the most and least fun I’ve ever had working.

The phone no longer exists, sadly, but you can buy a non-working prototype for $10 if you’d like to make your own throwback video.