A Holiday Shopping Trip To Radio Shack

Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for RadioShack. I received a gift card to facilitate a shopping trip and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

The holiday season means that, for millions of people, the rush to purchase holiday presents is on.  Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, many people have yet to buy their loved ones gifts.  Shoppers going to RadioShack might be in for a surprise, though.  RadioShack has made improvements to nearly all of its 4,300 stores throughout the nation, including a merchandise update, to ensure a better shopping experience and to stock new products.

The Shopping Trip

Recently, I was given the chance to shop at RadioShack and write about my experiences.  I actually went to local RadioShack stores on four separate occasions.  Each time I went, the staff were very friendly, offering to help but not pressing their help on me if I declined.  When they saw that I was juggling a mix of big and small boxes, they politely offered to hold them behind the counter for me while I continued to shop.  This made the shopping experience very pleasant.

In the end, I purchased some products that highly intrigued me.


How did these products pan out?

Recovering From Failure

key-finderLet’s start with two products that I had high hopes for, but which just didn’t work out.  The first of these was a Bluetooth Key Finder.  I was really anticipating this one.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been ready to head out only to realize that our keys had gone missing.  A frantic hunt ensues and precious time is lost (not to mention nerves being rattled).  The Key Finder promised to alert us to the key’s presence via a smartphone app.  It would attach to your key ring and would emit a noise when the app was launched.

What’s more, according to a Radio Shack clerk, the process worked in reverse as well.  You could press a button on the Key Finder and have your smartphone alert you to its position.

Sadly, when I got this home, I noticed that the Key Finder is limited to selected Apple and Android products.  Our phones were not compatible.  I plan to keep an eye on this product, though.  If new versions are released with wider compatibility, I’ll be first in line to buy it.


The second product was the Silverlit i-Fido.  I got this robot dog toy for JSL to play with as it boasted of having a voice-changer, the ability to interact via an app, and the ability to dance to music.  Unfortunately, when I set it up, I realized that you needed to go into the settings area every time you turned the dog on.  As I’ve locked the boys out of the settings areas of their tablet computers (to keep them from messing something up or installing apps they shouldn’t), this wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, the folks at Radio Shack made the return process easy.  I simply brought the items back and I was offered the credit on a Radio Shack gift card.  (A gift card was offered because I had used one to purchase them in the first place.  Had I used a credit card, a refund would have been put on my card.)  Any store will sell you items, but all too often stores will give you a hard time returning items that just don’t work out.

Big Wins

With those near misses out of the way, what about the rest of my purchases?  How did we fare with them?


The first one we opened was a 100 piece Snap Circuits set.  This set consists of snap-together circuitry that kids can use to build their own simple devices.  There is an instruction book with circuit maps that the children then replicate to build a night light, alarm, flying saucer, and more.  This was more than a win.  Soon after NHL began playing with it, JSL got jealous and wanted to play with it as well.  However, NHL was having too much fun and wouldn’t relinquish it.  When I returned the i-Fido and the Key Finders, I used some of the store credit to buy another set.  So now we have two identical Snap Circuit sets and my boys are having a blast figuring out how to assemble various types of electronics.


After this came the RC Moonwalker.  This is a remote controlled vehicle that you assemble yourself.  I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation as we opened it up.  Would this be a low-quality kit that would break as we put it together?  Would the RC controls be so weak that you needed to be within 2 feet of it to work?  Would the boys never want to play with it?

The answer to all of these is a resounding no!  The kit is made (mostly) of plastic, but it seems pretty sturdy and snapped together firmly and easily (with one minor exception which was easily addressed with minimal gluing).  Once the batteries were in and the vehicle was turned on, we tried it out.  We quickly found out that it responded quite well to the remote control.  At one point I even tried to see how far it would work away from the remote.  I came up with a distance of over 20 feet.  Not bad for a $15 build-it-yourself RC kit!

Just like with the Snap Circuits, the boys began to fight over this.  Therefore, we’ve added an RC Dinosaur to the mix.  Now they can take turns being a Moon rover or robot dinosaur rolling across the landscape of our house.

rc-dinosaur rc-pals

Finally, there was the smartphone mini-tripod.  How many times have you wished you could be in the shot you were taking with your camera phone?  Assuming there is a flat surface, this is just the answer.  Simply position your camera in the grip of the mount, extend the legs to stabilize, and line up the shot.  Then, making sure your camera is on a timer delay, press the shutter button and get into the shot.  Your camera will be held in place by the tripod and mount and the photo will be exactly as you framed it.

tripod-1 tripod-2

This setup can also be used to take stop motion videos.  Simply use the tripod and mount to keep your camera steady while you take photos or short videos.  Then, string them together into a movie.

There were plenty of other items at Radio Shack that I passed up – for now – but that got me thinking about maker possibilities.  I’ve wanted to get into making things for awhile, but always held back.  Items like a 30 second audio recorder module (powered by a 9 volt battery) and enclosure boxes, have led me to think about the possibilities for putting things together.  I definitely envision more trips to Radio Shack in my future.

Radio Shack – Name Your Deal

dollar_smallDisclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for RadioShack. I received a gift card to facilitate a shopping trip and promotional item as a thank you for participating.

The approaching holiday season means that a lot of stores will be offering deals to entice you to buy from them.  In addition, next Friday is Black Friday – a time when even more deals are offered.  Radio Shack is no exception and – being an electronics store – is one that I’m definitely interested in.

Radio Shack is taking a slightly different approach to Black Friday.  In addition to their regular Black Friday deals (with deals of up to 80% off starting on Friday, November 29th at 8am) and Cyber Monday deals (December 2nd beginning at 12am), Radio Shack has a Name Your Price deal.

Here’s how it works.  First, go to Radio Shack’s Holiday Hub and click on the Name Your Deal Now button.  Next, select one of twenty-nine products.  There’s everything from phones to speakers to tablets to RC cars to a microcontroller kit to headphones to a 3D printer.  One you select your product, you will be presented with a series of deals to choose from.

Each vote will push that deal higher in the rankings.  On November 27th, the top five deals will be announced and will be available.  If you want to increase the odds that a particular deal will be selected, you can share the deal via social media.  If your friends vote for the deal, it might just help push that deal into the top 5.  But you need to vote quickly.  Voting ends on November 22nd!

Having looked over the Name Your Price deals, I’m most interested in the Google Nexus 32GB tablet (after all my kids and wife have tablets, why can’t I?), a couple of the RC cars or even RC helicopter (for some outdoor fun), or possibly one of the over-the-ear headphones (as I’ve found that the in-ear ones that I have hurt my ears).

What are you hoping to buy during Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  Do you have your eye on any particular piece of technology?

NOTE: The "dollar sign" icon above is by vijayrajesh and is available via OpenClipArt.org.

DS Punishments

Over the weekend, we did some shopping.  We went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to look for some shoes, we went to Border’s to look for bargains and we went to Target to get some needed groceries/clothing.

In Target, however, NHL began to complain.  This wasn’t just a normal whine, though, it began to turn into yelling at me and being disobedient to make a point.  B took the shopping cart with JSL while NHL and I went to the car.  Actually, we first stopped outside the store in the hopes that I could get him to calm down.  When this didn’t work, we went to the car.

NHL wasn’t out of the woods, though.  During his scream-fest, I told him to calm down or else.  When he pushed the “else”, I told him that he wouldn’t get the book he had just bought from Borders.  He didn’t seem to care so I also took away the puzzle he had gotten.  This didn’t make a dent in his attitude so I brought out the big guns.  I told him he couldn’t play the Nintendo DS.

Now, *this* got a reaction.  I wrote about his Games Addiction last week and it is still very much in force.  NHL *loves* playing his DS.  If he had his way, he’d go through the entire day casting Lego Harry Potter spells.  So losing the DS for the weekend was a big hit.

At the car, NHL sat in silence.  When he was fully calmed down, we went back into Target.  We checked the registers and then walked all around the store, but, unfortunately, we couldn’t locate B and JSL.  Finally, we decided to wait for them at the car.  As we approached, I saw them waiting for them at the car for us.  Somehow, our paths had crossed without either of us noticing the other.

Later, I’d find out that B had tweeted about “losing” us.



This morning, NHL celebrated the ending of his DS exile with a rousing game of Lego Harry Potter.  It wasn’t long before he was triumphantly declaring that he had gotten past Snape and could make some Polyjuice Potion.

My Walmart Father’s Day Wishlist

In case you haven’t heard, Father’s Day is coming.  Growing up, this meant buying my father a tie or similar piece of clothing.  (Techy gifts while I was growing up, either were beyond my monetary means or weren’t the kind of gift he was interested in.)  And while I appreciate a nice tie, my gift preferences usually skew towards the geeky side.  Sadly, though, we aren’t super wealthy.  I can’t afford to go out and buy every single piece of geeky

tech that makes me drool.  I need to prioritize and bargain shop and Walmart is always on my bargain shopping list.  Here, in no particular order, are some tech items that I’d love to get for Father’s Day.  All of these items were spotted during a recent stroll through our local Walmart.  They are also all available from Walmart’s Father’s Day electronics page or Walmart.com.


Video Games:

Playing video games is fun.  Playing video games with my boys is extremely fun.  NHL, while not a master, has learned how to operate the controls nicely.  JSL wants to work it right, but just can’t figure it out yet.  I think he just needs more practice.  Which means I need to play more video games with him.  Oh the never-ending chores us dads must undertake!


Yes, we already have two Roku players.  One in our living room and one in our bedroom.  Why do we need a third, you ask?  Well, our upstairs room (used by the boys as a play room) doesn’t have one.  In fact, since it only has basic cable TV (and a DVD player but the DVDs are kept downstairs), that TV would benefit greatly from a Roku player.  Plus, the boys could rock out with Pandora in the larger play room space.

Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi iPad 2

Don’t ask me how we didn’t get a photo of this.  I drool over the thought of having an iPad to use.  Oh the web browsing I’d do.  The apps I’d download.  The Angry Birds I’d fling at green pigs.  Excuse me while I get my drool mop.

P1030319LCD Monitor

I recently inherited a desktop computer that my parents didn’t need anymore.  I want to set this up to be a print/file server, but I need a monitor.  I have two CRT monitors I could use but they are big, hulking affairs.  They work fine, but they take up so much desk space.  How much nicer would it be to have this slim number on the desk instead of the giant dinosaur?

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Walmart and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.