Friday, May 22, 2015

Product review: iPowerBuddy 10000mah Dual Port USB Portable Charger External Battery Pack


This is a 10,000 mAh external battery with two ports and a flashlight. The flashlight is fairly bright but generates a narrow beam (see video). The power pack has a very nice and clear charge level indicator - a digital display with the amount of remaining power. The charger performed well with my Android phone but charged iPad Mini at 1 amp rate on both ports including the port rated as 2.1 amps.

Size: 5 3/8" x 2 1/2" x 3/4"
Weight: 7.9 oz
Capacity: 10,000 mAh
Charge through charging: no (i.e. can charge while being charged)

To see how well different external batteries charge my mobile devices I use a Nexus phone and an iPadMini to test each of them. The current drawn on each port depends on each device using the charger. The port rated with a maximum capacity of 2A does not always deliver 2A, what is actually delivered is controlled by the device based on many factors such running apps, level of charge, and so forth. I always use the same two devices and I do my tests with the devices charged to the same level, running the same applications and using the same cables to keep everything the same. This allows me to do a relative comparison of various chargers and identify the ones that do not perform well. Note that these tests are not testing for the maximum current each device can draw on each port because I do not own devices that can max out the current draw.

I am including the details of the tests below for those who like to see the technical details.

★ Test Results:

✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
port 1: 0.94A / 5.01V (good)
port 2: 1.04A / 5.01V (excellent)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

✔ iPadMini
port 1: 0.93A / 5.01V (typical for 1A port)
port 2: 0.94A / 5.01V (typical for 1A port)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

★ Summary
This battery performed best with Android devices.

You can find this bag on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Product review: Handi-Bag Super Value Pack, 8gal


We purchased these trashbag for a 13.5"H x 11.5W" trash bin EasyPAG Round Wastebasket. Each trash bag is 24" tall and 21 3/4" wide. The stock photos seem to show an older version of these bags, the ones I got have flaps which are nice for tying up the bag (I show them in the video).

The bags are large enough to flap over the edges so I can put a large rubber band that holds the trash bag in place. They are a good fit for my 13.5" tall bin!

You can find thse trash bags on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, May 18, 2015

Product review: LELEC 1200W Steam Mop


I like this steam mop. It does a good job cleaning and it is quite light (4 pounds).

The mop went together nicely, all pieces fit together easy, the piece felt solidly connected, I did not need any tools. The instruction were very clear (words and diagrams). The only somewhat tricky part was attaching the water reservoir as the bottom of it is open and the water spills out a bit as you tilt it down. I did it over a sink and I was glad I did to avoid a puddle.

This mop is designed for sealed hard wood floors, tile, and vinyl floors. It also comes with a glider that can be attached to the bottom to use on carpets. The cleaning pads attach to the mop by Velcro. The bottom of the mop has heavy duty built-in Velcro strips that grab the Velcro on the bottom of the pad. I suppose with time they will pick up dirt and will not hold as well, but so far the hold is very secure, the pad did not come off during cleaning and took a strong pull to remove it. The mop came with two micro fiber pads.

The handle is adjustable and from the floor to the tip of the handle is 47.5". It comes with a nice long cord which is 114".

I thought the mop did a fine job cleaning. The steam level can be adjusted by controls on the body of the unit, right above steam control is an on/off button. When the steam is going full force the steam reaches the buttons and one needs to be careful not to get scolded. It might have been better if the controls were on the handle away from the steam. Pushing the mop on the tiles floor were easy. The mop head is fairly large (10.5" inches across) and there were some places where I wanted to clean but could not fit in in.

I liked that the steam level can be controlled and I can tell the difference when I use +/- buttons. The steam function works well and the mop does not leave the floor too wet as you can see in attached video.

I liked most things about the mop. The summarize the minor nits I have are

1) The water container is tricky to put back as the water spills a bit.
2) Control buttons are the area that get steam vapors

Overall, I thought the mop did a nice job. It was easy to use, it did a nice job cleaning.

You can find this steam mop on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Product review: Foxnovo F08 8-Slots Li-ion Ni-MH Ni-CD Universal Intelligent Battery Charger


This charger is trully a universal charger. It charges Li-ion, Ni-MH, Ni-CD batteries in large variety of sizes.
Ni-MH /Ni-CD: A, AA, AAA, C, SC
Li-ion: 26650, 22650, 18650, 18500, 18490, 17670, 17650, 17500, 16340, 14500, 10440

It charges batteries individually and up to 8 batteries at the same time. Some of my devices use odd numbers of batteries and it is useful to be able to charge one or three.

Foxnovo charger is pretty large: 8.5"L x 5"W x 1.5"H. The AC cord is 80".

✅ Foxnovo Charger shows individual status for each battery. The indicator blinks while the battery is charging , and is steady when the battery is stopped charging.

To test if it really works I took a AAA battery and a AA battery which my La Crosse charger showed "fully charged" and one of the AA batteries from my mouse which my computer told me needed changing because they were down to 14% full. Foxnovo charger stopped blinking for the 2 full batteries in 2 minutes, and continued charging the empty battery. The empty batteries were recharged in under 3 hours.

✅ I tested the charger through the charging cycle and it remained fairly cool through out.

✅ I found that spring loaded slider that holds the battery is quite stiff and the battery in the bay does not always make good contact as the slide pushes slightly to the side. I always make sure the light is blinking and adjust when the contacts do not line up right. This is not a deal breaker, but could be better.

Overall, I like this charger a lot. I like not having to charge my batteries in pairs and I like being able to charge different size batteries at the same time.

You can find this battery charger on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Product review: VonHaus Corded Oscillating Multi Tool Kit


This is a nice tool for cutting, scraping and sanding. I used to remove peeling paint and it was a lot faster and easier than using a rotating sander attached to my drill.

The oscillating tools comes in a nice plastic case. It includes the following attachments:
1. Sandpaper pads with different coarse level (total of 9)
2. Scraping attachment
3. Half Moon Saw
4. Cutting blade

The tool with the sand paper attachment attached weights just under 3 pounds. Even though the handle is fairly thick I did not find it to be uncomfortable to hold even though my hands are fairly small. I felt the vibration but always felt that I was in total control of the tool and my grip on it. On/off switch is comfortably located right on top of the tool.

The heads securely attach with a washer. It is tightened by a hex key which comes as part of the kit. The heads can be attached in one of 12 positions - which ever angle feels most comfortable for a particular job. I thought the triangular shape of the sanding pads worked really well and let me sand even in tight corners I could not reach with my circular sander.

What can be better? It comes with a 6 foot cord. I found it to be too short and had to use an extension cord. It would have been nice if the cord was longer.

I liked working with it and looked to see if replacement sandpaper pads are available on Amazon. I found an accessory kit which includes more pads VonHaus 38 Piece Multi-Tool Accessory Kit but no sanding pads by themselves. I contacted the manufacturer to ask if a product with just the pads is available, and was told that pads by other manufacturer fit this unit as long as the size of the pads is the same, for example these pads fit Bosch SDTR120 Triangle 5-Pack. This 5 pack is $3 at the time I am writing this review.

Overall, I like it! It will make this spring time clean up a lot easier.

You can find this oscillating tool on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Product review: Trackimo trk12m Universal Personal GPS Tracker


This GPS tracker is 2"L x 1.75"W and 7.8" thick )including the magnet plate or clip). It weighs 1 oz. The size might work for a large dog when using a clip, but mostly it is meant for sticking to a metal surface like a car or having it in backpack/pocket.

Some GPS devices only work when they are in the open and see the sky. This is not the case with Trakimo. I tested it indoors, hidden under the seat of the car, inside of my purse, under the car chassis. It was able to track in all those situations. It must be doing triangulation by determining its location from the position of the near by cell towers. When I initially turned on the unit for the first time I intentionally kept it inside the house for a couple of hours before taking it outside, at first it was about 7 miles off (the display noted it was an estimate) and in about 2 hour it got my location exactly right without even being outside.

You can track the device either from the website or from the phone. I am using an Android app, and I thought it was pretty nice. The app gives you an option to track every minute, every 5 minutes, and so forth up to every 2 hours. You can also see the history - last hour, last day, last week, or a range of dates. The tracking information is shown on Google maps so it is very clear, you can zoom in, see the satellite view and so forth.

The setup of the unit was pretty simple with one "gotcha" step. Once the device is charged all you need to do is turn it on and activate on the web site. As you register the device on the web site you need to enter the device id number. The image shown on the screen looked like the back of the unit, however my unit had no 7 digit id on the back. By the time I thought of looking at the box the device came in the box was already in the trash... but luckily the trash was not taken out. The id number was on the back of the box which was not mentioned anywhere in the documentation or the web site. I provided my feedback on this setup step to the manufacturer, hopefully it will be noted in the future. So don't through out the box until you register the device!

What can be better?
One of the likely uses for this device is "stealth" (for example, a cheating significant other). It would be better if the unit did not have a logo which says "Trackimo". If it was a plain black box without any markings it would reduce the likelihood that the cheating spouse would discover the box and know immediately what it does.

I did not find SOS function all that useful. When button is pressed it sends a message that the button was pressed. You know where the button was pressed but you don't know why.

This tracking device is provided by Trackimo. I am impressed by how well it functions both the hardware and the app/web site. I hope my video gives you a better idea on what to expect.

You can find this personal tracker on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Product review: Ukonnect 48w 4-port Family-sized Desktop USB Charger


What I like about this wall charger is that it has an extra long cord. The charger has a large power supply, however this allows the charge to be light and compact: 4.25" x 1.75" x 7/8". The power cord from ac outlet to the power brick is 45" and from the power brink to the charger is 58". This long cord allows me to plug the cord into the wall, let the brick lay on the floor, and put the small charger on my desk.

The performance of the wall charger is very good for both my Android phone and iPad mini tablet. I use these two devices to test all wall chargers so I can compare them to each. I test each with a current monitor with the devices charged to the same level, running the same apps, using the same charging cables - this allows me to compare how the chargers perform under the same conditions. This means I can quickly weed out poor performers. Note that my test does not test the maximum capacity of each port, because what the port draws depends on the device being used and other factors such apps being run and the level of charge. The test determine how the charger performs relative to its peers which can be generalized in my experience testing additional devices beyond the specific phone and tablet I am using.

Samsung Nexus phone:
using cable that came in the package
port 1: 1.00/5.10V (excellent rate relative to wall chargers with this phone)
port 2: 1.02/5.09V (excellent rate relative to wall chargers with this phone)
port 3: 1.02A/5.10V (excellent rate relative to wall chargers with this phone)
port 4: 1.03A/5.08V (excellent rate relative to wall chargers with this phone)

(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)
Note: these tests are not designed to test the maximum capacity of the ports

iPad Mini tablet:
port 1: 1.18/5.06V (pretty good relative performance for the same device with other chargers)
port 2: 1.27A/5.05V (pretty good relative performance for the same device with other chargers)
port 3: 1.42A/5.05V (pretty good relative performance for the same device with other chargers)
port 4: 1.27/5.05V (pretty good relative performance for the same device with other chargers)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

I have been using this wall on daily basis for over a week. It works well without getting warm. I like that it takes up only one on my power strip.

You can find this wall charger on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★