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Friday, June 24, 2016

Product review: Ecandy Universal Wireless Bluetooth FM Transmitter


I have been using FM transmitters in my car for many years as I like listening to audio books when I drive. The key to clear transmission is to find am empty radio station, static and noise will come from the stations that are not clear rather than from the FM transmitter itself. To find vacant FM stations in my area I used a web site "radio-locator (dot) com/cgi-bin/vacant" where you can enter your zip code and get a list of stations to try. It usually take me trying a few stations to find which station gives me the best sound (the least amount of noise or hiss).

This FM transmitter can either connect via Bluetooth to a smart phone, or play music from USB micro SD card, or connect to phone/mp3 player via an audio cable.

This FM transmitter has a couple of nice features that put above many others I have tried:

1) A nice large display which clearly shows the station and other messages
2) An easy way to scan the stations, if I press the forward button it quickly advances to station I want to tune to, I don't need to click one a time
3) I have complete control and can select any station (some base models give you a limited choice of stations which may or may not correspond to vacant stations in your area)
4) The display is on a goose neck so I can turn it to face me
5) The plug forms a very right connections with the car port so it does not loose connetion when I drive

The Bluetooth connected easily with my Nexus phone (device is show as BT20), and when it connected the status "Nexus 5 Bluetooth connection" is displayed on the screen.

This FM transmitter is missing some of the features my favorite FM transmitter has (Satechi) a remote control and ability to bookmark from the remote control. However, the Satechi unit is twice as expensive. This FM transmitter performed better than other FM transmitters I have tried at this price range

This fm transmitter is provided by Ecandy.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Product review: Littleadd Multi-functional Hidden Camera Spy Alarm Clock Motion Detection Nanny Camera 720P with Remote Control,


I like the idea of having a security camera that looks like a regular clock, however I ran into a number of problems with this camera. The main issue I have that the user interface is hard to use, you cannot tell when the camera is working or not (it communicates by turning on a subtle blue light which turns off quickly). The only way to control the video settings is using the remote control. Neither continuous video nor motion activated video works reliably. I managed to get a few videos but most of the time I find the micro SD card blank. I cannot trust it to do the job.

Even if it worked more reliably recording videos the video camera has one other design flaw that would have caused me not to like this camera. It cannot run while the battery is charging. Recording running on a battery only lasts less then 2 day while the battery is new (so it will get shorter as the battery ages). I own a good number of video cameras and all of them can record while charging, this video camera cannot. For a video camera that is meant to run continuously to catch some unknown event the fact that it needs to be turned off to be charged is a problem from a practical point of view. It is easy to forget to do it. Another alternative is to have a spare battery and then instead of charging the battery flip to pre-charged battery. However having to change the battery every day is something that is inconvenient and would not work at all if one wants the camera to record while they are on vacation.

The video quality is not great, but it is certainly enough to see what is going. I include video recorded by the video camera so you can see the recordings yourself. My video has sections recorded under bright light, in low light, and in the complete darkness. The camera is able to record in each situation although the quality of the video decreases as the amount of light decreases. The infra-red video taken in the darkness is black and white, so you can tell the difference with the regular video.

I received this video camera from Littleadd at no cost with a request to test and review this clock camera. Getting a free product does not influence what I say. This camera has a number of short comings which I did my best to show and describe.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★☆☆☆☆

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Product review: Lemfo Bluetooth Smart Watch Phone GSM Pedometer Fitness Tracker


There are a number of things about this watch that I like and a number of things that I do not like. I will try to go through pluses and minuses systematically.


1. Easy to read screen - bright colors, large numbers and letters
2. Touch screen - touch screen makes the user interface more intuitive
3. A large number of applications pre-installed on the phone
4. The app that controls the app is available from GoogPlay (no request to load the app directly from untrusted manufacture's web site)
5. Two options for user interface: "Smart" user interface which has one screen with all the apps is the default but is optional. With all apps one screen it is hard to pick the right one even with my small fingers. However, this interface can be changed to 4 per page which is easy to select and get what you want

1. "Smart" interface is not good. Even with my small fingers I often touch something else and a wrong app starts executing
2. The pedometer does not seem to be accurate, it does not detect all steps and shows a lower number when compared to another pedometer and just counting a small number of steps out-loud for test purposes
3. The app on the phone has a lot of rough edges, it is not untuitive to use, and needs more work
4. The synch with my phone does not work (I tried on Nexus 5 and Nexus 6p)
5. I was not able to change the face of the watch. I do not like the looks of the default face.
6. The level of the battery is not easy to tell
6. The battery of the watch ran out of juice in 2.5 days. My other watch with similar colorful face and touch screen runs 5 days without needing a recharge. The other has watch face which include battery level - a very good feature which this watch does not have.
7. Every time I use the band I wish I had three hands. I find it fairly difficult to put on and remove.
8. The button cover of the watch (towards my hands) pops off accidentally when I don't expect it.
9. Information is displayed in metric units
10. The charging port has a proprietary connector. If you lose it you will not be able to recharge the watch.

I received this watch for evaluation and review. Getting a free product does not influence what I say, I honestly describe pluses and minuses of every product I review. This watch still needs work to bring in on par with the best of the breed.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Monday, June 20, 2016

Product review: LED Desk Lamp and Grow Light


In attached video you can see a 10 day dairy of four pea seedlings - one was growing in a sunny window, one under a 12W grow bulb, and finally one using the 6W grow lamp offered in this listing. I have been using grow lamps for a couple of seasons and how well the plants do compared to the sunny window depends on how late in the grow season I am doing the comparison. In April the grow lamps win as April sun in New England is not that strong (or frequent). In May a plant in a sunny windows did better than the plants under the grow lamps. Never the less the plants under the grow lamp are healthy, robust, and only somewhat smaller.

Both grow lamps were turned on for 14 hours a day using a timer (off at night). You might think that a plant under 6W lamp would get less light and be smaller than a the plants under the stronger 12W lamp but as you see in the photos that is not the case. The plant under the 6W plant did as well as the plant under 12W. The difference is how many plants can fit under one light. 6W lamp generates a small spot light, just right for one plant. 12W grow bulb in a goose neck lamp can light 6 small pots with seedlings.

To satisfy my curiosity I measured the light generated by 6W bulb of this lamp and the light light generated by the 12W bulb with a lux meter (which measures light intensity) and the measurements were similar.

As a final thought I want to share a tip I learned from several years of experience of using grow bulbs: having a fixture with a goose neck is very important. If the plant gets too close to the bulb it can be burned, so I adjust the neck as the plant grows.

This grow lamp has an excellent pliable neck. Howeverm it is not very long, it is 14.5" and my other goose neck lamps are longer. Because it has a clip it might be possible to clip it to something else to gain extra height. The clip of the lamp opens easily and the jaws open 2.5" wide. The cord has in-line on/off switch and a regular plug.

This grow lamp is provided by Aceple. As you see in the photo diary, the plant under this lamp did well although not quite as well as the plant under natural sunlight.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Product review: Food Storage Containers BPA Free Airtight - Keep Food Fresh and Safe - Leakproof Microwavable Plastic Set of 8 - Elacra


Elactra container storage is a set of 8 containers. Often when I get a set of containers there are some throw away sizes that I never use. This is not the case here, all containers are the sizes that I use all the time.

2 large containers: 5 cups (41oz)
2 medium containers: 3 1/3 cups (27oz) (my favorite for taking lunch to work)
4 small containers: 2 1/2 cups (20oz)

These contains are made of non BPA plastic, they are stiffer than Glad containers. The covers have gaskets and they lock very tightly. In fact so tightly that they are sometimes hard to open and I use a grippy pad to make it easier to open.

All containers are air tight. I always do a water test on any container I get to know how I can use and if I can carry liquids without worrying about a spill. And as you see in the video all containers passed with flying colors - no spills in the shake test.

When closing the container listen for the link. The large container has two locks on the long side, otherwise there is just one lock on each side.

These container are provided by Elacra for testing and review as part of the new product introduction. I hope my water test helps set your expectations.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Product review: SD Indoor Trash Can Brushed Silver Size 7L


This trashcan has a stainless steel outer shell and cover and a black plastic bin. The trash can runs on four AA batteries (not included). I am running mine on rechargeable AA batteries. I will post an update when the batteries are exhausted, so far in a couple of weeks of daily use going strong. This is a fairly small trash can, not so much in volume but in the size of the opening. The opening of the trash can is 4.5" x 4.5". It limits what kind of trash can be put into it. It works well for tissues and other small items like that.

The outside dimensions of the trash can (with the cover on) are:
13.75" tall
7.5" front to back
5 5/8" wide

The black bin dimensions are:
10" tall
6.5" front to back
4.75" wide

The finish is brushed stainless steel and it looks nice.

I use a 4 gallon trash bag liner in this trash can. The trash can does not have a ring to hold the bag so I use a large (5") rubber band to hold the trash bag on the can.

The cover operates smoothly and closes well preventing odors from escaping. The Trash Can automatic opening mechanism is not overly sensitive so it does not open when I just walk by, I need to hold my hand about 11 inches or less away from the cover for it to react.

The trash can comes without any documentation. However there is not much to document - perhaps that it runs on 4 AAA batteries which are not included and that the on/off switch is on trash can cover next to the battery compartment.

Overall I am pleased with this trash can. I am enjoying the convenience of touch-less trash can!

This trash can is provided by SD for testing and review as part of the new product introduction.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Product review: Kuprum Hand Hammered Natural Solid Copper Sauce Pot

This is a really nice pan. Copper conducts heat better than stainless steel, ceramic, iron, aluminum, so I immediately noticed how quickly this sauce pot heated up. It is also a good looking pan - I like the hand-hammered finish of the sides.

This pan is 5.5" accross and holds a quart of liquid comfortably. On the inside it is lined with tin. Tin is chemically inert so it is safe, and food lifts of tin as well as from well-seasoned steel without requiring seasoning. Out of the two common linings for copper pots - stainless steel and tin - tin is more thermally effecient than stainless steel and more similar to copper, so it makes for a better marriage for a copper pot.

Documentation recommend hand cleaning, and warns against washing in the dishwasher.

I received this pot for evaluation and review as part of a new product introduction. The pot weights 1 pound 7.6 oz and has a look and feel of a well made pot.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★