Friday, January 10, 2014

AMEX Platinum Losing Value

AMEX Platinum Losing Value:
Lounge Access (AA & Delta Changes)
S: American express advertises lounge access for card holder. Especially prior to 2011, the card got you into most airline lounges, including AA, Continental, Delta, United, and US airways(even without a ticket for that specific airline). They also advertise rewards, and Travel services.

O: In October 2011, Amex platinum lost Continental President's club. In March 2014, Amex members will lose AAdmirals Club access In May, 2014, member will no longer be able to take guest along with them into the Delta Skyclub lounges. A $29 fee will apply.

You do get the $200 statement credit, but at only 1 airline, the airline can only be changed every January. They now give you access to Centurion clubs, yes all 2 of them. With 2 more on way.

They give you 1 point per dollar spent and then you can redeem them for various rewards, including Amex gift card at about 200 points per dollar. So about 0.5% rewards. Although rewards can be up to 1% depending on how you redeem them.

They add a service charge for all travel related reservation, even if they are made online.

You get other insignificant benefits like $100 statement credit for Global Entry, SPG gold status and few other standard credit card benefits.

All this for $450 annual fee.

Not to mention, a lot of establishments DO NOT accept American Express.

A: For a hefty annual fee this charge card give you very insignificant. The lounge access is cut, and there are many other cards that given better rewards with no annual fee. Such as Discover, Which gives you $50 cash back right off the bat. Up to 5% cash back, up to 10 times what American Express gives you.

P: It's not worth $450 anymore (unless they add additional benefits, which I'm hoping they will), I am cancelling my Amex platinum for now, I will re-apply if it is worth it again. Financial institutions have no loyalty, they want what's best for their bottom line, and I have no loyalty to them, I will do what's best for my bottom line.     

Friday, January 3, 2014

8 Brands to Avoid

Brands that have spent the most on Superbowl ads

I recently read an article that list the top 8 companies that have spent the most money on superbowl ads.
Money spent '02-'12 (Millions of USD)
8. E*Trade
7. Ford
6. Warner Bros.
5. Coca-Cola
4. Yum! (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza hut)
3. General Motors
2. PepsiCo
1. Anheuser-Busch

That's right nearly a billion dollars has been spent on superbowl ads, just by these 8 companies. that almost $3 per person in the united states.

After reading this article, I have decided to stay away from these 8 companies, because these costs are invariably going to be passed down to the customers. They companies also try to increase their bottom line by hiring people that are willing to work at lower wage and therefore do not provide the best quality of products, services, or customer support.

Instead, when possible, I go for an start-up competitor of these companies. For several reasons, including that fact that my business is going to be appreciated more, and I will get more respect as a customer.



S: It is advertised as both a streaming and a DVD/Blu ray rental service.

O: Generally, I tend to stay away from services better subscription based.given that I don't watch too many movies, I was late coming to Netflix. I wasn't I buy there one free month to try to service. I was bored during the winter break, and there was nothing else left on Hulu free. So, I decided to sign up for Netflix. Originally I signed up for just a streaming service. Although, it had many  the TV shows  that I liked.  It's selection of movies that were available to be streamed was limited. Most of the popular movies that I wanted to watch, we're not available to be streamed. Initially, I must say I was a little disappointed. In order to watch the movies that I had really wanted, I decided to give the DVD service a try and signed up.

After signing up, I made my queue of DVDs that I had wanted. 2 days later,  I noticed on the website that they had ship to DVD to me. What I also noticed was that, that the shipped DVD was not number one on my list.  Anyways, I watched that movie, & I returned it.

The DVD was picked up by the mail-person from my mailbox on late afternoon Thursday, end on Friday morning I noticed does Netflix had already at acknowledged the receipt of it and whispering to send me another DVD.  I was impressed that quick turn around.  Again, the DVD  that was being shipped to me was not number 1 on my list.

after playing around a little bit, I was able to talk my Netflix with my Blu ray player.  This made streaming really easy.

What I liked most about Netflix was their apparent dedication to customer service. Unlike most subscription services, they have the option of canceling the subscription online. Additionally, there contact phone number was easy to locate and they also gave an estimated wait time. I'll admit that I never had to call them so I never verified the veracity of the estimate wait time or the quality a customer service personnel on the phone. 

A: I would say that Netflix service is easy to use delivers what is advertised.  Although I'm not sure how to determine which DVD to mail you, I have suspicion that this may have to do with availability of the discs.

Bottom line: Well worth the price, delivers what's promised, and easy to use. There are very few websites give you the option to cancel subscription so easily. Since, Netflix offers this, I have a lot of respect for them as a company, and how they do business. For that alone, I'll recommend them.

It given the the flexibility to pick the plan that matches your needs starting from as low as $4.99

P: I'll keep it. May even upgrade to the 2 Blu rays at one time, it fits my schedule better. It'll allow me to order both and watch them in the same weekend.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Google Chromecast

Google: Chromecast

(Image courtesy of EricaJoy Wikimedia commons)

S: From their advertisements it appears as if you're trying to make Google Chromecast look like the seamless bridge between your computing devices and your television.


- What Chromecast did well:

  1. Set up was easy and straight forward.
  2. Able to play Netflix and Youtube videos easily on my TV. I could turn off the app on my computing device after setting it up.
  3. Played online videos from other sites, but I had to leave my chrome running on my computer.

- What it did poorly or failed to do:

  1. Failed to mirror my desktop onto my TV properly, some application did not mirror properly.
  2. Failed to mirror DVDs playing on my computer to my TV

O:All in all, it mainly allows you to play Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube on your TV.  Although it does them well, it is not unique in doing them. There are plenty of DVD/Blu ray players that do the same. it's only new feature,  the ability to mirror your desktop on to your TV is still listed as experimental.

I don't think that Google chromecast add anything to your television viewing experience that may not be fulfilled by other Electronics that you mat already own.  think its worth paying $35 when you can buy a Blu ray player for a little bit more day does almost everything that Google chromecast does plus plays DVDs and Blu ray.

This is not even a new idea,  there are other devices that do the same.  so, I think chromecast is a ploy take a share the market without adding anything new.

P: It's a great device, if you only plan to watch YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu Plus videos.  Even from Netflix common a good movies are on the DVD program and cannot be streamed. you also cannot use free Hulu on chromecast, you must use Hulu Plus.

I recommend this device only for the people who are pretty certain that they can get their entertainment needs met within the limitations of this device. For most people, I would say skip and wait for the version 2.0

Given its limitations, lack of innovation, and price tag, I decided to return a mine in 4 days.

Soap Reviews


Happy 2014! New Year and New Blog.

We live in a age of technology.  New technology is coming out every few months.  Some of it is great, and some no so great.  One thing holds true for everything new that comes out:  it cost a lot of money.

if you're liking you want to know before you buy: is this worth my money?   Of course, every single piece of advertisement is designed to make you think is the answer to this question is a resounding YES!   and if you have recently bought a phone computer or any other gadgets, then you'll know this is not always the case. 

Since I buy a lot of gadgets  and I'm usually not in a hurry to fall in love with them.  usually when I buy something,  for the first week or so I like to try out as many of the new features is possible.   It is usually after this series of tests, did I decide whether or not I'm going to keep this particular item.  And I must say returning about a quarter of the things that I buy.

very often, my buddies who know my habits,  will send me an email asking me what I thought about articular item. Since my new years resolution was share my thoughts with more than just my friends, I decided to start a blog.

Being a physician training,  I write a lot of SOAP notes.   so, I will write my reviews in the form of SOAP notes. Hence the name of this blog.
S: What I got out of the advertisements
O: How I evaluated the product
A: My thoughts of the product
P: What I plan to do with it.

I hope you like my reviews, and they help you make appropriate decisions and save some time. Should you have any questions feel free to comment.