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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Product review: 4 Way Hose Splitter - KMASHI Garden Hose Connector with long handles


I like that most of this hose splitter are the long shut-off handles.  They are very easy to open and close. The splitter is made out of metal encased in rubber. The quick connects are plastic, but the other fittings are zinc alloy and give me a tight seal.

On the negative side the water outlets are tightly packed. This comes into play if you are using timers. A timer on this splitter covers up two outlets. Some four way splitters have connectors that are angled and they allow an outlet next to the timer to be accessible. For my gardening needs I have multiple timers as well as hoses, so I could not use this splitter in the back of the house. However, in the front I am using one timer on this splitter which means I had to give up one of the outlets as it is blocked.

The package includes 10 additional washers (plus one more is already in the hose splitter).

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Product review: Rosewill VALENS-700M Modular Design 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V Active-PFC Power Supply


This is a nice power supply with enough for any personal computer. Its capacity of 700w and a large number of connectors (total of 5 connectors plus 3 hard-wired plugs). This power supplies provides a lot of room for growth.

Alens 700 is 5 5/8" x 3.5" x 6". It uses ribbon cables, which are more flexible than round cables.


--> One 20 +4 Main plug, hard-wired
It can handle motherboards with both 20 pin or 24 pin connectors.
--> One EPS12V CPU plug, hard-wired
The power supply supports one CPUs. It is designed for desktop use only, as servers often have more than one CPU.
--> One PCIe plug, hard-wired
--> One PCIe plug, modular
Supports two SLI graphics cards
--> Three SATA or Molex plugs
2 SATA cables, each with 3 plugs, total of 6 SATA devices
1 Molex cable, four Molex plugs and one floppy plug

I measured the power supply with a power supply tester and all votages are within tolerance. The attached video includes several screen shots that show the power supply tester output. The top number for each rail shows the expected results, the number below (in a slightly larger font) shows the actual reading. 0.5V is the acceptable tolerance. All readings are well within the tolerance. Its a good one!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, October 13, 2017

Product review: Flexzilla Garden Lead-in Hose, 5/8 in. x 3 ft.

I bought the Flexzilla 3-foot lead-in house in the spring, so it had been in use for three months. It formed a water tight connection without teflon tape and I like the sleeves that protect the connection from kinking. As a lead-in hose into a four way switch it is always under pressure and has not any leaks so far.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Product review: Meking 300w Bulb , 20"x28" Softbox , 29.5"x9.8"x11.4" Photography Zipper Bag,78.7" Lighting Stands Photo Video Studio Light Kit

There are many things about these studio lights that I like, but they have one serious flaw. They come with Type C electrical plugs common in Asia and South America (two round prongs, not two flat prongs known as Type A we use in USA). I happen to have plug converters from when I used to travel a lot so I am able to use them, but I wanted to start my review by drawing attention to this requirement.

- These studio lights generate nice natural light. In attached photos I set them up in complete darkness and the lights filled the room with a non-harsh light. The lights use Tri-phosphor light bulb 150w 5500K 110V E27.

- The umbrellas and the diffuser shields are nice. They collapse and pop up easily. The diffuser shields have fitted corners so they go on easily and stay on well, they also have Velcro to grab on to umbrella better.

- The electrical cords have in-line on/off switch. My old lights had a switch next to the light and it would always get ultra-hot. This is a much better design.

- Everything is pretty easy to set up and disassemble. When the lights are not in use they fits into the carrying case included in the package. The bulbs (if you want to keep them in the cartons like I do) do not fit into the carrying case, but everything else does. The bag has handles lengthwise as well as at the top end of the case. I use the handle on the top to hang the bag from a ceiling hook in the basement and the case does not take up much space while being easily accessible.

- The stand is collapsible. The screws and the stand are metal, but the fittings are plastic. This is likely to be the weak point of the system over time. However, no problems so far.

Here are a couple of minor cons:

- The stands are okay but they are a little top heavy when fully assembled. The legs could have been made to spread wider to provide more stability.

- The electric cord of each stand is only a little longer than the stand itself. I need to use an extension cord to plug in the lights. I would have liked each cord to be 5-6 feet longer so it could be used without an extension cord.

So what's the bottom line? The light kit is not aimed at the American market, so even though I am able to use them with two converters and the light the lights generates nice light I am not able to rank the kit as good. If it is re-wired to have type A plugs that work with American outlets I would rank it as a 4 star product. I notified the seller of the problem and he said he will address it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Monday, October 9, 2017

Product review: HP LaserJet Pro M477fdn Multifunction Color Laser Printer with Built-in Ethernet & Duplex Printing (CF378A)


I am using this laser printer in a home office with Linux, win10, and win XP computers. All three operating systems connected without trouble.

1. Linux - I had to install HPLIP from repository, support for the driver is built into the Linux OS. I was able to connect the printer both as USB printer and network printer.

2. Windows 10 - the driver for win10 is included on the CD ROM that came with the printer, searching for the network printer during configuration found the printer and configured it.

3. Windows XP - the driver for XP is not included on the on the CD ROM but it is available from the HP website.

The quality of the print is nice and crisp. The black color is not as bold as the old laser printer, but very clear. The colors are bright and clear. Both the scan and the print are fast (the first scan/print has a short pause for the printer to warm up, but the rest of the pages are very quick.) The FAX (the sending part) is fairly slow, but that's the FAX limitation not the printer. What is nice is that HP provides a test FAX number on their web site (search for test FAX number HP), so I was able to send a test FAX to confirm everything is working.

When not in use the laser printer goes into sleep mode. When I start to scan or print it wakes up automatically, but there is an extra pause to warm up a printer after sleep.

To activate the warranty one needs to find the serial number. It is printed on the box, it is also easy to get it the driver once the printer is installed (this information is available from device info). After I registered my printer I checked the status of the warranty and saw that it says 10 months remaining rather then 12. I had to contact support to have this corrected. Perhaps this is the date HP shipped to Amazon warehouse? The printer did NOT look like a returned product that was registered by someone else. The support told me they will correct the warranty period after processing my Amazon receipt. This is heads up to check your warranty period to avoid problems down the line.

The printer is pretty heavy. In its packaging is about 60 pounds long. It does have handles on the side of the carton to get a grip. The front is 18.5" wide, the depth is 16.5", the height with the cover closed is 16". How much clearance is needed to use it? To open the cover to slide a document into a crack the minimum you need is 19". If you need to totally open it to scan a book you would need a minimal clearance of 25".

Overall, I like the printer. There are, however, a few small things I do not like:

1. Not all cables were included in the packaging. When I pay $400 for a printer I expect the package to include all the cables I need. However, this printer did not have either the USB cable nor the Ethernet cable. The package included a power cord and a telephone cord for the FAX.

2. Multi-page tray does not always feed documents straight. Sometimes the output of the scanner is slightly askew.

3. The warranty issue I mentioned earlier is a concern. It would have been very easy for me not to check the status of the warranty and lose two months of coverage.

4. The on/off button blinks brightly, quickly, and continuously when the printer is not in use (sleeping). The button is solidly on when the printer is in use. The fast blinking is in my field of view when I sit in front of the computer and found it distracting enough that I had to put a black sticker over it. I can still see faint light around it so I know when it is on. This is a poor design, a solid light when not in use and blinking when working would have been a much better design (my old laser printer worked this way).

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Product review: Silicone Skins for Arlo Smart Security


I have been using the Arlo security system for over 1 year without a jacket and now a couple of years with Wasserstein jacket.  Looking at the stock photo I was a bit worried that the jacket will make the magnetic hold weaker and I was not sure if I would like it.

Turns out the jacket has three holes (stock photos do not show this, but my video does) - one for the camera lens, one for the magnetic hold, and one for the battery door. The camera jacket is easy to put on and it fits well.

I selected the brown color that matches my trim and I think the camera is less noticeable and looks better in the jacket. The camera is waterproof so I don't think the jacket is needed to protect from rain, but it seems to provide a little bit of insulation for cold weather and prolongs the battery life in the winter.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Product review: RecorderGear FD50 USB Flash Drive Voice Recorder 8GB


At the time I am writing this review the price of this recorder is around $90 and for the price I expected a better all purposes recorder. It did a reasonable job recording human voice, but did a very poor job recording music. The recorded music is clipped and sounds distorted. When I held the recorder in my hand the recording picked up a lot of crackling. I did not purposely do anything to generate that noise but as you hear in attached audio the difference between me holding the recorder and having it put down is dramatic.

The recorder looks like a regular flash memory stick. To make it discrete looking the interface that makes it work is not obvious. The recording switch looks like a loop for hanging the recorder on a key chain. The switch has three positions left, center, right. The center position is off, and left/right are the two modes. The two modes are "continuous recording" and "voice activated recording". They are indicated by a small dash and two small dots on the front of the recorder. The markings are black on black and are barely visible. The dash indicates continuous recording and the two dots indicate voice activated recording. The charge level indicator is barely visible as it points down when you plug the recorder to be charged. When it is charging you see an occasionally shadow of a red flash. I took about a dozen photos and on one of them I managed to time my photo and captured this flash of red light, so you would know where to look to see it.

To set the time and to see the recorded files you need to use a Windows computer. Normally fat32 flash drives can be read by Linux desktop, but this flash drive is not seen by my Linux computer so it is doing something non-standard. My Windows laptop has no problem accessing the memory stick.

I included several audio clips in my video so you can judge the quality of the recording for yourself.

My video includes four types of clips under different situations:
(1) Two clips with human voice
The recording has some echo, but not bad.
(2) Classical music
Clipped and distorted, not acceptable
(3) Pop song
Clipped and distorted, not acceptable

The recorder can be re-charged in any USB outlet. It runs on built-in 180mA rechargeable Lithium. Documentation states that battery lasts da day on stand-by. The recordings are produced in MP3 audio file format.

RecorderGear provided this voice recorder for an honest review be it good or bad. What is the bottom line? I thought it did a decent job for human voice in a quiet environment. The microphone is pretty sensitive so in a noisy environment it picks up a lot of surrounding sounds. It works for recording lectures and presentations where is one clear source of sound. It did a terrible job recording music. If it was priced in the $20-30 range I would have rated it as 3 star - ok for lecture recording. For $90 (the price at the time I am writing this review) I expected a more general purpose recorder which produced better results.
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆