Monday, November 24, 2014

Product review: FlePow 18650 2600mAh 3.7V Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries and Universal Smart Li-ion Battery Charger


FlePow charger can charge one or two 18650 batteries at a time. It also works for 18500, 14500, 14430, 10440, 16340, 22650 batteries. I use 18650 in several motion sensitive lights as well as flashlights. Some of them run on a single 18650 battery, so the fact that can handle recharging single batteries as well as two at a time is very useful for me. Foxnova capacity tester showed capacity of these batteries to be 2827 mAh at 3.89V.

FlePow charger is 5.125"L x 2.25"W x 1"H. The AC cord is 40". The charger becomes only slightly warm during charging (normal), while the batteries themselves remain totally cool. The charger has a bright charging status indicator. Green LED light indicates full charge, and red LED light indicates charging is in progress. This charger does not have a discharge option that is available on some chargers.

Geeky sidebar: A few times in the past I have been asked about the internal resistance of the batteries I reviewed. I recently put together instrumentation that allows me to calculate internal resistance. I tested this battery under load of 6.6Ω(Ohm) and calculated the internal resistance by dividing the voltage drop (0.16V) by the current through the load (0.608A). The internal resistance is 0.263Ω.

The description states that the batteries achieve their full charge capacity after 4-5 recharge cycles. I used a different charger to do 4 extra discharge cycles and so far the batteries hold the charge very well. The light has been on using one of these batteries for several week without any signs of dimming. These batteries appear to be just a little larger (1 mm or so) than my original batteries that came in my light. The batteries do fit, but they are harder to put in, I need more force to push them in.

Overall, I like the charger and despite the tight fit the batteries work well.

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

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Product review: Yubi Power Desktop Surge Power Charging Station


I like charging stations that combine AC and USB ports as I always have a mix of devices that need different ports. This charging station has a 47" inch AC cable, 4 USB ports, and 2 grounded AC ports. The station size is 5" x 5" x 1.25". AC outlet are positioned in such a way that they will accept regular size plugs. If you have a large plug it will cover up both outlets. There is room on the box to space the outlet more, I wished they were positioned further apart.

I measured the performance of 4 USB ports. I used both an Apple device and an Android device. I tested each device when it was the only one charging as well as when both of them were charging on the shared ports. Both devices worked, but the performance was a bit disappointing for my Android devices on all 4 ports (AC rate but below optimal), and very good for Apple devices on one ports but below optimal on the other ports. I am including the detailed current monitor readings below for those who like to see the technical details.

➨ Test results
✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone (the only device charging)
Port 1: 0.71A / 4.95V
Port 2: 0.66A / 4.95V
Port 3: 0.74A / 4.94V
Port 4: 0.73A / 4.93V

✔ iPad Mini (the only device charging)
Port 1: 0.47A / 4.95V
Port 2: 0.93A / 4.90V
Port 3: 1.41A / 4.89V
Port 4: 0.93A / 4.93V

✔ iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone at the same time
Nexus phone - Port 4: 0.79A / 4.95V
iPad Mini - Port 3: 1.59A / 4.95V
Nexus phone - Port 3: 0.76A / 4.95V
iPad Mini - Port 4: 0.95A / 4.95V

To summarize I like that the charging stations combines USB and AC ports without an additional charger. However, USB ports on this charging station did not perform as well as other wall chargers. The decision here is between the convenience of having a charging station and relatively slower speed of charging.

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

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Product review: Okra Smartphone & GPS Dashboard Grip Mount Holder


This holder is made out of a very odd feeling material, it feels sticky on the back side as well as the cavity and the sides. When I first touched it and my fingers felt the stickiness I had to test if my fingers felt dirty from some goo... they did not. Yet they felt like was holding something very sticky, like glue on the back of the packing tape.

It sticks well to the dash and does not leave any residue. I always have a lot of small items I want to carry in the car either a pen, or some change I need for the meters. It is good for lots of thing. I also use it for a small camera that has a magnetic mount (no suction cup). This little camera would slide around on the dash before this holder and now it sits perfectly still even on turns.

Note that I do not use this mount to hold the phone in the slots when I drive. The slots are fairly shallow and on turns or bumps the phone can escape the holder.

The holder does attract dust and dirt, however it cleans up well with soapy water.

Its size is 6" x 3.75".

You can find this mount on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Product review: Small Silicone Suction Lids


I like these silicone lids. They provide a very nice hold on mugs. In my video you can see that suction is strong enough to lift the mug by the handle on the lid. I don't use this way in real life, but I thought it was a good way to demonstrate when seal works and when it does not. I also show how the lid works with a small glass jar and a plastic yogurt container. You can see that when a glass container is too small and the opening is not big enough to form a good seal. The edge of the yogurt container also does not form a great seal I can only lift the container briefly before the seal breaks.

Even thought the lid does not form a great seal on plastic edges of the yogurt container it is still good enough to cover it for a day or so. This is my most common use for the lid. I really miss the days when all yogurt containers had resealable covers and this has become an reasonable substitute.

You can find these lids on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Product review: StayFresh Ethylene absorbing Pods - controlled experiment


These pods are small plastic balls with holes. Inside the balls are sachets with crystals that absorb Ethylene Gas. Lots of fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas, and this can shorten the life of produce that absorbs it. You can avoid the problem somewhat by storing them separately, but an ethylene gas absorber can extend the life of your fruits and veggies without the trouble.

Fruits that produce ethylene:
Apricots, Avocados, Bananas, Cantaloupes, Honeydew melons, Kiwis, Mangoes, Nectarines, Papayas, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Tomatoes

Fruits and Vegetables that sensitive to ethylene:
Apples, asparagus, broccoli, potatoes, watermelons, and more

I was curious to see how much of a difference the Stayfresh pods would make. To test how effective Stayfresh pods are I selected two two bananas, two apples, and two cucumbers and put one each in two separate refrigerator draws. One with a Strayfresh pod, the second without. Attached video includes the comparison of the the fruits and vegetables in the two draws and how they held up.

I started this controlled experiment on 9/15, I did not open the refrigerator draws until 14 days later which was 9/29. My video include photos taken on 9/15 and 9/29. To be extra sure that I don't mix up the two groups I attached labels to them "A" for fruit and vegetables which were stored with a Stay Fresh Pods and "B" for the ones stored without Fresh Pod. The banana appeared to be darker in the draw with the Stay Fresh Pod, however the apple appeared to ripen less and tasted slightly crisper. The ripeness of the cucumber appears to be the same in both groups.

So what is the bottom line? I do see the difference between the two groups but it is not a huge difference.

Stayfresh pods do their job for 3 months. I received Stayfresh pods from Trific for testing and review as part of the product introduction. I asked Trific if the pods can be refilled with new sachets after three months to make them more economical to use and was told that though refills are currently not available they will be available by the time these sachets expire in 3 months.

You can find these pods on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, November 14, 2014

Product review: Kassa Chalkboard Blackboard Contact Paper


This chalkboard roll is a roll of black contact paper. One side is black, the other side is white paper with guide lines so you can make a straight cut. You can cut the roll into any shape you need to make labels or cover some larger area. You can write labels with regular chalk or use a Chalk Pen. In both cases you can erase the writing and do it again. To erase I use a slightly damp paper towel.

I found many uses for the chalk labels, my favorite use is for labelling my seasonal clothing. I give myself extra room in the dresser by packing away the opposite season clothing in storage boxes that sit on the top shelve of the closet out of the way. I like using chalk labels because now I can change the label as easily as I can change what goes into each box.

I like the roll more than individual pre-cut labels because the roll is more economical and I can decide how big each label needs to be. For writing I prefer a chalk pen to regular school room chalk because it allows me to write in smaller more legible handwriting. In attached video I show how I use both. Both write and erase well, my preference is based on my ability to write in a neater smaller handwriting.

You can find this visor on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Product review: Catch Caddy Car Seat Catcher


I saw a similar product on Shark Tank. This is not the same product but it has the same function. I have not used the Shark Tank product so I can't compare all features, but I remember that it was soft made out of neoprene where as this product is made out of plastic.

Catch Caddy is a plastic pocket that goes between the seat the central console. Catch Caddy width flexes but it is pretty stiff and has a minimum width of 5/8" of an inch. It fits only on one side of the console in my car (I never realized my car has gaps with different width). But the side that it fits into is the near the driver side, so if I had to pick one that would be that one. The edges of the caddy are hard so I lowered the caddy below my seat so I don't accidentally hurt myself on the edge. If the car seat is moved the caddy needs to be repositioned, but that is not an issue for me as this hardly ever happens. The benefits of the hard pocket is that it is easy to take out and clean. Because the fit is tight it does not move as I drive or corner. The opening is very narrow so it is not a general purpose storage area, however I did use it to store driving directions once until I needed them. I am attaching a video which shows how it fits into my car (Honda CRV).

The caddy is 14.25" long. The top is 3" uncompressed, the bottom is 5/8". 5/8" gap is required, if you gap is smaller than 5/8" at any point (as it is on my passenger side) the caddy will not fit.

You can find this catch caddy on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆