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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Product review: Tsir Tech® TT-LD82 Adjustable Wooden Laptop Desk with Built in Cooling Fan

This laptop desk top is 21" by 16". The height adjusts from 21" on the shortest setting to 30" in the tallest setting. The wheel base is 19" wide, 20" front to back. The table top can be tilted. It has a plastic baffle which prevents the laptop/tablet from sliding off when the top is tilted.

The table has 4 wheels (two of them with wheel locks). The wheels roll well. During assembly you need to secure the wheels to the base with small screws (provided) to prevent them from moving around the wheel base.

The table has a built-in led light which runs on three AA batteries (not included). The light is a nice idea but I wish it had a longer neck. When I type my hand is at the same height as the light and shades the keyboard.

The table has a built in fan which is powered by the laptop. USB cord for the fan is included. The side of the table has a 4 USB ports, extending the number of ports built into the laptop.

Assembly of the unit was not too bad. I found that the hardest part was screwing the little screws into the plastic tubes to prevent the wheels from rotation around the wheel base. All the tools necessary to assemble the table are included. Note that the screws and tools are stored in the little under the desk tray. I did not notice the tray right away, and thought the hardware may have not been lost.

I am attaching a collage of 7 photos (which can be located by following customer photos link under the main photo) to demostrate the laptop table in use.

✔ The first photo shows the tray with a little draw. The tray's size is 8" x 3.5".

✔ The second phot shows the main assembly of the table, this is the unit that attaches the table to the support and allows the tilting of the table.

✔ Photo #3 shows the side of the table, you can see the USB outlets, the lamp, the draw on the left, and the battery compartment on the right.

✔ Photo #4 shows the close-up of the battery compartment, which takes three AA batteries. They are used to power the light.

✔ Photo #5 shows the wheels of the table, as well as the location of the screw that prevents the wheels from rotating around the support.

✔ Photo #6 shows various measurements of the table: it is 21" wide, 16" from to back, and 13" of usable area (i.e. from the bottom of the handle to the edge). I find the handle pretty useful when I move the table around.

✔ Photo #7 shows my laptop on the table for relative size reference. You can also see the LED lamp turned on.

I mentioned earlier that the table has a removable support bar. Picture #1 shows the table without the support bar, Picture #6 and #7 show the table with the support bar.

If you are vigour typist you will probably generate a bit of the table shake when typing on the laptop as we discovered when my husband tested the table. I am lighter on the keyboard and did not notice movement when I use it.

I received this laptop table from the manufacture for an evaluation and honest review of both positives and negatives of this product.

Overall, this table is attractive and useful.
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, June 28, 2013

Product review: DBTech Electric Egg Cooker

video
Boiling eggs is not hard, but on a few occasions through the years I got distracted, the water boiled away and ruined a couple of my favorite pots. This is my first egg cooker. I love it! I have been using it for about a month and it is working very well.

I am attaching a video which shows how the cooker prepares two eggs.

The small up that comes with the egg cooker shows marking in three columns "hard boiled", "half-hard boiled" and "soft boiled". The amount of water you need to add depends on the number of eggs you cook and the desired hardness of the egg. The water is measured with a small cup that comes with the egg cooker. The lettering on the cup is just raised numbers and letters, they don't have any contrast with plastic and very small. I have to put my reading glasses on to see the markings.

Before starting to cook you need to piece each egg shell with a provided tool. The tool works very well, it makes a very small neat hole.

When the cooker is done it buzzes and turns itself off. I am very glad to have an automatic turn off and a buzzer reminder . The buzzer is pretty loud as you can hear in my video.

I received this egg cooker from the manufacture for an honest review.

The only negative for me is that the marking on the small cup are very hard to read. Other than that I have been quite pleased with the egg cooker. I hope the description and the video will help you see what to expect.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kindle book review: Tomato Container Gardening: 7 Easy Steps To Healthy Harvests from Small Spaces

I have been growing patio tomatoes on my kitchen deck for many years. I always look for new ideas to improve my tomato garden and to prolong the fairly short New England growing season. Tomato Container Gardening started a bit slow, but about 1/3 into the book even an experienced patio tomato grower like myself found some interesting and useful ideas.

Some of the ideas I liked is the ideas about preparing the soil prior to planting - covering the pot in plastic bags and fertilizing one week prior to planting. Another idea that was interesting is what to do in the fall to prolong the season by pruning late in the season and how to force the plant to ripen faster. I will definitely try these out this fall.

I also thought the section on watering was very good. The key to successful patio garden is good irrigation. I have a pretty extensive drip irrigation system controlled by a timer. The authors covers this option as well as several others, including how to build your own self-watering container at a lot lower price than buying one at the garden store.

There is one technique that I use that have not been covered by the book. This approach helps me extend the growing period by starting earlier. I start my tomato seedlings under a pop-up umbrella and hand pollinate the tomatoes. With a pop-umbrella greenhouse I typical my have the first green tomatoes appear during the last week of May, which is pretty amazing in the cold New England climate. Here is one of the pop-up umbrellas I use GreenThumb Pop-Up Greenhouse. Note that my review of the umbrella contains the description of the pollinating technique I use while the tomato plants are isolated from the bees.

The book ends with a few of the author's favorite recipes, including green tomatoes. There is always a bunch of green tomatoes left on the vine when my growing season is over, so I will be giving this recipe a try in the fall.

This book was useful even for someone who has been growing patio tomatoes for years, and certainly will be very educational for those who are just starting out.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, June 24, 2013

Product review: Fiskars 7972 15-Inch PowerGear Anvil Lopper

I needed a pruner to fight bittersweet vine. Due to several back surgeries I don't have a lot of strength in my hands, so I was looking for a pruner that was light and easy to use. I got this 15" Fiskars pruner this weekend in local home improvement store and spent several hours cutting my pesky vines. The pruner worked great! It cut every vine I found and it was easy!

The pruner weights 13 ounces, and has a PowerGear design that really helps amplify the strength needed to do the cutting. I am attaching a collage of 5 photos (you can find the photos by following 'customers photo' link under the main photo). The photos show the pruner and some of the vines I cut and took home to measure.

Photo #1 and photo #2 show the pruner opened and closed. Photo #3 and Photo #4 show one of the bigger vines I have cut: 3 inches in circumference and a bit over 7/8 inches in diameter. Photo #5 shows the vine that was snaking up one of my big fur trees.

Overall, I am very pleased. This pruner was easy to use and did a good job!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Product review: Gurin Renewable Wireless Mini Dehumidifier

This dehumidifier is 6" by 4.5" by 1.5". Crystallized silica gel inside of the case absorbs moisture in the air (documentation says it can absorb 8-10 ounces of moisture). The window on the front of the unit show moisture indicator crystals that change color from dark blue (when dry) to pink (when wet). When the crystals indicate that the content is wet the unit needs to be plugged in for 12-14 hours to dry out the gel.

The unit is designed to work in small enclosed areas. I keep some paperwork in the basement and want to prevent it from smelling musty. I put the Gurin dehumidifier into the enclosed box with my paperwork and left it there for 1 month. I took pictures of the indicator after this 1 month test and after I dried them out again.

The first photo shows the unit from the side. It comes with a hanger which is handy to finding a good way to place the unit. I used it to hang the unit inside of the box from one of the sides.

The second photo shows the power outlet which is used when you need to dry out the silica gel. After 1 month test I kept the unit plugged in for close to 20 hours as crystals continued to get darker after 14 hours recommended in the manual.

Photo #3 shows the "dry" crystals after they were dried out. Photo #4 shows the "wet" crystals after 1 month in the basement. Under the bright lights I was able to tell a subtle difference between purple and dark blue. The top of the unit contains a color chart that shows blue for dry, purple for medium, and pink for wet. After one month the color was somewhere between the blue shade and the purple shade shown on the chart.

Having a small unit preserving valuable papers is very useful. I believe the unit did absorb the moisture in the box. The indicator is a bit hard to read, but at least this test told me that I don't need to recharge (i.e. dry out) the silica every month.

I received this dehumidifier from the manufacture for an honest and unbiased review. Note that the manufacture provides a 5 year limited warranty for this product.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Product review: Gurin Professional Rechargeable Oral Irrigator with High Capacity Water Tank

I started using Gurin rechargeable oral irrigator on March 15, slight over 1 months ago. I wanted to test how long the irrigator will work on one charge, I have been using it once a day and it is still going (I will update this review when it runs out of charge). Yesterday, I had my 6 months dental cleaning. The hygienist got done with me faster than normal and complimented me on doing a good job cleaning. I asked her opinion of oral irrigators and said she told me they are helpful especially in the hard to reach areas in the back of the teeth.

This is my first irrigator (I received a unit for evaluation) and it took me several tries to master using it. The things that are obvious to those who used this hygiene tool before were something that a new user needs to discover by trial and error. To use it properly you need to keep your lips tightly closed, and move the wand inside the mouth. The water from the irrigator will fill you mouth, so you will need to spit it out. This means you need to be able to stop the irrigator multiple times during the cleaning session. In order to avoid spraying the walls of your bathroom (been there done that!), keep the finger on the on/off button and use it before opening your lips. I typically do 1/2 of each side (e.g. button left) before stopping to spit out the water.

The first few days I used it I was not sure I would stick with it past the evaluation period. By the third day of use, I loved it! I definitely feel I get a better cleaned mouth especially on the inside of the back teeth. I can usually complete cleaning the entire mouth one full fill of the reservoir. Occasionally, I need to refill but that does not happen every time. The strength of the stream is the same until it is totally empty. My favorite setting is light pulse.

I am attaching a couple of photos. The irrigator is shown on 1" gridded mat for size reference. The bottle is 7.5" tall, The nozzle is 3" long. The bottle is ergonomically shaped and is easy to hold. The empty irrigator weight 8.9oz. When it is full with water it weighs 13.7 oz. The buttons that select the setting and turn the unit on/off are on the back of the unit, right at the grip area.

I like
-------------

The fact this unit is rechargeable, does not need a cord. So far it exceeded my expectations of how long I can use it without needing to recharge the unit.

The unit is rather compact, and does not take much room on my vanity top.

I feel I am getting a better cleaning. The comments by the hygienist was a nice confirmation.

The unit came with two color-coded heads, each one can be used by different people.

I dislike
------------

Nothing so far.

If this is your first experience with an oral irrigator give it a few days before you decide if you like it. It did take me a few days to learn to use it in a way that felt good.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Update 5/22/2013 - The irrigator ran out of its first charge half way through the application this evening. My first use of the irrigator was on March 15, so the first charge lasted slightly over 2 months.
I'll update this review so there is a record of how long the second charge cycle lasts.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Product review: Light Duty Hand Sprayer/Mister - .5 gl

I have a rock garden which I try to keep free of grass. On occasions when the grass breaks through the garden fabric, I use Weed-B-Gon spray to treat these small areas. The sprayer on Weed-B-Gon container takes quite a bit of squeezing to cover even a small area, and over the last summer it stopped working altogether - it just foams and spits out a bit of liquid. I still had quite a bit of solution left, so I went to a local home improvement store looking for a solution without knowing exactly what I was looking for. When I saw this air bump sprayer I thought it was worth a try.

I just completed my first application and I could not believe how well it worked. After just a few pumps the sprayer emitted a nice even spray with just a finger touch. I did not need to squeeze and pump and I was done with my application within a couple of minutes. The sprayer can be adjusted from a stream to a spray, and could reach an area several feet away easily.

I can't be more pleased! This sprayer will save me quite a bit of time and effort.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, June 17, 2013

Product review: Bolse® 7-Port USB 3.0 HUB USB 3.0 Cable (VIA VL812 Chipset), Compatible with USB 2.0

The Bolse USB hub is 5" x 2.75" x 1". It has 7 USB slots are located on the front panel of the unit. The back panel take the power code and USB plug that plugs into your computer. The top contains a light for each USB slots, and lights up when something is plugged in. The USB cord is 39". Its power cord cord is 45" long. The USB unit weighs 5.1 oz, the unit with the power plug and 2 cords weigh 11.6 oz.

The documentation states that this hub USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. I tested with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, and it is backwards compatible with both.

I tested the hub on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux. Each operating system I tested saw the memory stick plugged into the hub without problems.

To evaluate each port I tested each port by copying a large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. I wanted to test that all ports worked, I wanted to test if there was a significant difference in performance between ports, and I wanted to see if copying to multiple memory sticks at the same time would slow down the copying.

✔ First, I tested each port using 2.0 USB memory stick. I ran each test twice and the tables below show the average of two results for each port. I ran a total of 14 tests in this part of the test. All ports worked with a normal small variations in performances. The results of these are presented in the tables below.

✔ Second, I tested copying files onto two 2.0 USB memory sticks at the same time, to see of the copying slows down compared to working with one stick at a time. I ran 2 tests with 2 sticks at the same time, and the results below show the average of the two tests. The performance was slightly slower compared to test 1 (this is normal and expected).

✔ Third, I used USB 1.0 memory stick for comparison in speed and to verify that 1.0 USB memory stick works.

✔ Finally, For comparison I plugged the same memory sticks directly into the computer without the USB hub.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#1 (single USB 2.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Port1:_______0.551s (cpu) 1:19.06 (clock time)
Port2:_______0.544s (cpu) 1:19.12 (clock time)
Port3:_______0.542s (cpu) 1:15.96 (clock time)
Port4:_______0.890s (cpu) 1:23.06 (clock time)
Port5:_______0.408s (cpu) 1:18.72 (clock time)
Port6:_______0.547s (cpu) 1:18.77 (clock time)
Port7:_______0.536s (cpu) 1:19.41 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#2 (two USB 2.0 sticks at the same time)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Memory stick #1: 0.926s (cpu time) 2:02.37 (clock time)
Memory stick #2: 0.826s(cpu time) 2:02.21 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#3 (single USB 1.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Port5:_______1.184s(cpu) 5:05.11 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#4 (single USB 2.0 stick plugged directly into the computer)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CPU time: 0.851s
Clock time: 1:54.24

I am attaching a collage of 2 photos of this unit.  The first photo shows the front of the USB unit during
2 memory stick test. The second photo shows the back of the unit.

I was provided a sample for evaluation and I ran it through 19 tests in order to provide unbiased and honest review. The unit performed well and met my expectations for a 5 star rating.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Product review : HooToo® HT-CR002 External USB 3.0 Multi-in-One Card Reader (4 Memory slots)

HT-CR002 Multi-in-One Card Reader combines three USB slots and four memory card readers. The unit itself is fairly small 3.25" x 2.5" x 0.25". It needs to be plugged into AC power as well as USB slot on the computer. USB cord is 32" long. The power cord is 58". The card reader weighs 2 oz, the cords are 5 oz (most of the weight is in the power plug).

I tested the card reader on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Linux. I tested with USB 2.0 memory stick, USB 1.0 memory stick, 133x CompactFlash memory card, microSDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card, and Class 10 SD card. The only slot I was not able to test is Sony's MS memory stick as I don't have any devices that use it.

Each operating system I tested saw USB memory sticks and cards plugged into all slot in the card read without problems. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0. I tested with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1, and it is backwards compatible with both.

To evaluate the card reader I tested each port by copying a large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. I wanted to test that all ports and slots worked and measure their performance. To test various USB devices I run the same set of tests so I can compare them to each other in "apples to apples" comparison. If some unit does not perform well I notice it by comparing it to the other devices I have tested. I ran a total of 18 tests and the results of these tests are presented in the tables below.

✔ First, I tested each of the three USB ports and three of the memory cards. I ran each test twice and the tables below show the average of two results for each port.

✔ Second, I tested copying files onto two 2.0 USB memory sticks at the same time.

✔ Third, I used USB 1.0 memory stick for comparison in speed and to verify that 1.0 USB memory stick works.

✔ Finally, For comparison I plugged the same memory sticks directly into the computer without the card reader.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST SET#1 (single USB 2.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Port1:_______1.060s (cpu) 1:23.83 (clock time)
Port2:_______0.584s (cpu) 1:15.84 (clock time)
Port3:_______0.559s (cpu) 1:15.30 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST SET#2 (two USB 2.0 stick)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Port1:_______0.883s (cpu) 0:57.01 (clock time)
Port2:_______0.566s (cpu) 1:24.53 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST SET#3 (memory card slots)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CF card:___________1.234s (cpu) 1:27.81 (clock time)
Micro SD card:_____1.523s (cpu) 1:09.36 (clock time)
SD card:___________1.241s (cpu) 1:46.49 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST#4 (single USB 2.0 stick plugged directly into the computer)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CPU time: 0.851s
Clock time: 1:54.24

I received this card reader for testing and review from the manufacture. I ran a large number of tests on this unit to provide an unbiased performance evaluation. Overall, the card reader performed well and based on these tests earned a 5 star rating. I particularly like that it has microSD port that I can use without an SD card sleeve.

I am attaching a photo of the unit that shows everything that came in the package including the card reader in a position where you can see all of its slots. The photo can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, June 14, 2013

Product review: Gurin Electric Compact Dehumidifier

Add caption
Gurin Dehumidifier is 9" tall and 5.75" wide at the base. Its best feature is that it very quiet because it does not have a compressor, the worst feature is that it is not very effective in removing humidity. Both are not surprising and stem from the technology used in this unit. More on the technology itself at the end of the review, but first a few examples of what I observed in my use of this unit.

1. I originally hoped to use it in the bathroom while it is used for showers to keep the air dry, and to prevent fogging of mirrors. For several day, I turned on the unit each time the shower was taken, and turned off the unit when the shower was over. In that use the humidifier tank remained empty. Thinking back to how the Peltier method works as well to our Koolatron cooler (which also uses Peltier technology) I realized that short periods of usage do not work because the unit requires some time before it becomes effective. When we go on summer trips we pre-cool the cooler in the house for it to work well during the trips.

2. Then I took the dehumidifier to the basement, where we have a standard 50 Pint dehumidifier which fills its entire bucket in several days. I turned off the large dehumidifier, and left Gurin Dehumidifier there for 24 hours. After 24 hours the reservoir of the unit had 1 oz of water. I am attaching a photo of how much water it collected. After 24 hour of use the big electric plug of the unit got rather warm to touch, so I suspect it uses a significant amount of electricity.

Gurin dehumidifier is quiet and light because it uses thermoelectric method called Peltier. This method is most commonly used in cooling. In 1834 Jean Peltier noticed that when electrical current is applied to the junction of two different metals the heat is removed from one of the metals and transferred to the other. This is the main principal of thermoelectric cooling (and known as Peltier effect). The dehumidifier has cooling unit which is constructed from tiny metal cubes made from different metals. As electricity passes through the junctions between the cubes the heat is transferred and a fan vents the heat outside, a small amount of moisture is removed from the air in this process and condensed and this is the water we see in the reservoir of the unit.

So for this unit to work, it has to be turn on continuously, and it removes a fairly small amount of moisture from the air. It is very quiet, and if you need to remove only a small amount of humidity it will do an ok job.

I was provided this unit for a review and honest evaluation.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Product review: NEEWER LED Macro Ring Light 48 X LED with 6 Adapter Rings for For Canon/Sony/Nikon/Sigma Lenses

NEEWER LED Macro Ring Light is not as good as I hoped, but good enough to be useful in some situations. I am including a collage of 6 photos to illustrate my review.

The ring light came with 6 adapters (49mm/52mm/55mm/58mm/62mm/67mm), which fit both of the cameras I use. The adapters work similar to Cokin filters where you attach a metal ring of the adapter to the lens of the camera, and then slide the light ring into the adapter.

I selected this particular light ring because it could run on DC power as well a battery pack. The power pack is mounted in the hot shoe but the mount is used purely to hold the batteries in place on the camera. The ring does not communicate with the camera, once you turn on the light it is permanently turned on. The power unit is 3.75" tall and 1.5" x 1.5". It weight 4.2 oz with the batteries installed, and 8.7 oz together with the right light itself.

I hoped I would be able to hook up DC power to the ring without going through the hot shoe mounted battery back because my SONY NEX5 does not have a standard hot shoe mount. However, even without the batteries you need to use the power unit. Luckily the power unit has a 17" power cord so for the table top photography I can leave the power adapter laying on the table, and when shooting outdoors I can stick it into a pocket (I just need to remember to wear a shirt or vest with a pocket at the chest level). I like this approach better than using the cumbersome hot shoe adapter for SONY cameras.

As I mentioned earlier the unit provides continuous lighting (not flashing). There are a total of 48 LED lights and three settings: all lights on, left half of the ring is on, and the right side of the ring is on.

To demonstrate how the light ring works I am using a 17 inch power strip (this is a boring subject for sure but the length of the strip shows the light distribution very well).

There are two sets of photos, four are taken with the light 2 feet away from the object. Another two are taken with the light 6 inches away from the object. The photos are not edited in any way, just shrunk and stitched together. I took all pictures with a wide angle lens (18mm) so you can see the light ring in the shot - this makes it easier to see which lights of the ring were turned on, and also shows what you get if you use a wide angle lens. The photos were taken with the ring light being the only light source.

Photo #1 shows show the strip at 2 feet with the full ring of lights.
Photo #2 same lighting and distance but above the power strip rather than to the side.
Photo #3 shows strip at 2 feet with half the lights on, on the right side of the ring.
Photo #4 shows strip at 2 feet with half the lights on, on the left side of the ring.
Photo #5 shows the strip from 6 inches from above
Photo #6 shows the strip from 6 inches from the side

For photos take from 6 inches the ring produced pretty good results, however photos with the subject 2 feet away were not good. I hoped to be able to use the ring light at 2 feet, but the it did not produce sufficient amount of light for use at that distance. It does reduce shadows at the 2 feet distance when used in combination with another light source.

The bottom line, I found good uses for this ring light, but it did not totally live up to my high hopes.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Monday, June 10, 2013

Product review: Transcend 8 GB microSDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card

Transcend 8GB card and the sleeve worked well. I used the card for a video camera and it worked well. The card in the sleeve was recognized in my PC without problems.

To test the speed of the card I tested Transcend 8 GB microSDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card by copying a large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. For comparison I including numbers for copying the same set of files from and to hard disk of my computer, and to USB2 memory stick.

I ran each test twice, and the numbers you see is the average of the two tests.

✔ Transcent microSDHC : 1.482s (CPU time), 1:33.97 (clock time)

✔ USB2: 1.358s (CPU time), 1:23.53 (clock time)

✔ Hard Drive: 0.573s (CPU time), 0:00.58 (clock time)

Good price, card works well, I would buy it again.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book review: How to Design and Make Bracelets with String, by Isabella Forrer

I found this guide very helpful and easy to follow.

The first part of the guide shows step by step examples of how to make string bracelets by tying various knots (half knot, half hitch, square knot, open square knot, butterfly knot, switch knot, alternate double half hitch). The extras section provided several methods for adding beads to the bracelets. The second part of the guide covers necklaces, braided jewelry, and on-line resources for string and beads.

The guide's instructions are clear, each step includes an illustrated drawing which shows exactly how to place the strings. The author included many nice photos of the completed bracelet so you have an idea of what you will get at the end. Anyone can make bracelets, however it will take some practice to make them as nice as even as the author's bracelets!

I was looking for a project that would be fun to do with a group of youngsters (boys and girls) and making string bracelets was a big hit! Everyone enjoyed tying knots and exchanging bracelets at the end. I could not have done it without this little guide!


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Product review: Polaroid XS100 Extreme Edition HD 1080p 16MP Waterproof Sports Action Video Camera

video
This 6 oz video camera is fun to use and produced pretty good video. I am attaching a video taken with the camera and 6 photos of the camera itself to illustrate my review.

I took Polaroid XS100 camera with me on a weekend trip and recorded video snippets through the entire day. I made about 2 hours of recording (on a single charge battery charge). The attached video contains four clips took during this trip in various lighting conditions.

✔ Driving in the car
Note when the sun hits the camera you can see a bit of a halo from the dome that covers the lens. The anti-vibration feature of the camera is very effective in the car.

✔ In bright day light
Excellent color and sharpness especially when the sun is behind

✔ Inside a store
Worked well in a small quarters and fairly dim lighting

✔ At night
Very good low-light performance. The anti-vibration feature of the camera is not effective for larger scale shakes which is the results of the bobbing camera during a walk.

The camera has 170 degree wide angle lens. I used Class 6 MicroSD card. F2.8 Fixed Focus Lens focused well and performed well in low light. My video was shot as 960p.

Video options are:
1080p: 1920x1080p / 30FPS / 16:9
960p: 1280X960P / 30FPS / 4:3
720p:1280x720 / 60FPS (Slow Motion) / 16:9
720p: 1280x720 / 30FPS/ 16:9

Photo options are:
Resolutions 16MP, 5MP, 3MP, VGA
Photo Mode: Single / Burst (x10) / Time Lapse (5,10,30,60)

The camera records two formats of files at once - full size and low-resolution "thumbnail" video, which is useful for sharing.
My full size video was generated in .mov format. I converted it to .mp4 for editing with my Linux-based video editing tools.


   


The first photo shows everything that comes in the package: the camera, the pouch, HDMI cable, and a large number of mounts and sticky pads.

The camera is water tight up to 30 feet. The lens is covered with a dome (see photo #5), the back has a water tight lock (see photo #4). Photo #3 shows the back of the camera with the cover off. The top slot is for micro sd card, below is HDMI port, below it the charging port, to the left the selection for video format, on the right the reset hole.

Note: I had trouble turning on the camera for the first time after charging, but pushing the reset button fixed the problem and the camera turned on.

The video camera is operated by two buttons on the top of the camera (see photo 4). The long button with dots control video recording. And the smaller button in front is used to turn on the video camera on and off (with a slight hold) or take still pictures (with a light press without any hold).

Photo #6 shows the bottom of the camera where various mounts attach. The mounting screw is plastic and one has to be careful not to strip it with a metal mount.

Photo#2 shows the camera on 1 inch gridded mat for size reference. The camera weights 6 oz. It is 4 inches long, and the lens portion is 1 3/8 inches in diameter. The pouch has a Velcro closing, and it is possible to put the camera into the pouch even when it is attached to a mount.

Other starting and setting, the only setting you can change directly from the camera is the format (HD or FHD). To change other settings you need to connect the camera to the PC (Mac or Windows) and use the Polaroid software. For example, if you wanted to set the camera to take pictures on a certain interval. This requires you to pre-plan what you will do on each trip unless you can take a laptop with you. I wish I could control more things directly from the camera, but that would probably have made the camera larger.

If you have Windows-based PC Polaroid.exe is automatically installed from the camera into the micro sd card when you connect PC for the computer for the first time. If ou have a Mac you need to down load the software by from the web site (note that web site name is polaroidaction-dot-com (not polaroid-dot-com). Because my primary operating system is Linux the software did not get installed automatically and I needed to download Windows executable from the web site. The file name you download from the website is called setting_win.exe (not polaroid.exe as the file that is automatically installed).

The camera comes with HDMI cable that allows you to view and manage the content of your MicroSD card on your TV. However, I found that for me it easier to remove the MicroSD card and place manage it from the computer.

Polaroid camera comes with gravity sensor G-Sensor, which auto rotates the image even if you mount to the camera upside down. It is not totally fool proof as one of my video was recorded side ways. I must have rotated it after I turn the camera on but did not realize it. But the rest of around 30 videos were perfectly oriented.

Audio recording worked, but recorded audio sounds fairly low compared to my other video camera.

I was provided a sample for a review be it positive or negative, and I tried to cover both the positives and negatives of my experience.

Overall, I thought it was a fun camera to use and I thought it produced pretty good results.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Product review: Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh Heavy Duty 5V 2A/1A Dual USB Ports External Battery Pack Charger

I tested Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh Heavy Duty 5V 2A/1A Dual USB Ports External Battery Pack with Nexus 7 Tablet (JellyBean 4.2.2), Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone (JellyBean 4.2.2).

I own several external battery packs. To test their performance I run the same set on tests on each of them in order to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of each unit.

To test Intocircuit power pack I ran my 10 minute test for each of my 3 devices on each of the 2 ports for a total of 6 tests. In addition I charged both Nexus phone and Nexus Tablet at the same time, one in each port. The results of these 7 tests are included in the tables below.

I am attaching a collage of 2 photos.

Photo #1 shows the power brick on the digital scale, its weight is 9.9 oz. The size of the power pack is 2.625" by 4.375" by 0.875".

Photo #2 shows the top of the unit which has an LED screen showing the level of charge. Next to the screen there is a small lack button which turns on the LED light. The light is pretty dim. Some other power bricks I have have a much brighter light, however this is not a key feature of the battery pack and the underpowered light did not effect my rating of this unit.

This power pack has two outlets, they are not labelled.

I use Battery App by Elvison to determine how each device recognized the charging source. 'AC' status means the charging is at full charging rate. 'USB' status indicates charging at a lower charging rate. 'Discharging' status means that the charging rate is below the power that the device is consuming so it slows down the discharge rate but does not re-charge.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test.

The key findings:
(1) Both Nexus phone and Nexus 7 tablet (both running Jelly Bean 4.21) charged at AC rate on both ports.
(2) Samsung Galaxy 7.7 works, but shows different behaviors on the two ports

The table below summarizes my findings:

Nexus 7 Tablet
--------------
right port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase
left port........AC rate.....2% charge increase

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
right port.......AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)
left port........AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)

Nexus 7 Tablet and Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone at the same time
--------------------------------------------------------------
Tablet...........AC rate.....1% charge increase
Phone............AC rate.....5% charge increase (among the best rates in my tests)

Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7.7
--------------------------
right port.......AC rate..... 1% charge increase
left port........AC rate..... discharging if screen is on, 1% charge increase if screen is off

In addition to the tests above we used Nexus 7 Tablet to navigate during a several hour trip while plugged into Intocircuit Power Castle Series PC11200 11200mAh external battery (rather than the car charger). Nexus 7 remained charged at 100% at the end of the trip.

I received this battery pack from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. Running the same set of test on all my external batteries allows me to provide an unbiased review. By comparing the results of the tests for this battery to the other external batteries I tested, this power pack earned a 5 star rating.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Product review: Bolse® 3.1 Amp Dual USB Port High Output Car Charger 15w

I tested Bolse 3.1 Amp Dual USB Car Charger with Nexus 7 Tablet (JellyBean 4.2.2), Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), and Samsung Galaxy Nexus cell phone (JellyBean 4.2.2).

I own several car chargers and ran the same set on tests on each of them to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of the unit.

To test Bolse car charger I ran my 10 minute test for each of my 3 devices on each of the 2 ports for a total of 6 tests. I repeated the same tests with a data cable and with a charging cable. The results of these 12 tests are included in the tables below.

I am attaching a collage of 4 photos labeled with numbers 1 through 4 under customer photos that I will be referencing in this review. You can locate this photo by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

Photo #1 shows the charger on a gridded mat next a pen for size reference. The car charger is 3.5" long. The charger's face is 1.25" by 1".

Photo #2 and #3 show how the charger fits into our two cars. It has a relatively log neck and fits very well in both car configurations. It goes in firmly, forms a good contact, and stays plugged in well even over rough roads. The charger has two outlets labelled 1.0 AMP and 2.1 AMP.

Photo #3 shows one of the tables during the testing. I use Battery App by Elvison to determine how each device recognized the charging source. 'AC' status means the charging is at full charging rate. 'USB' status indicates charging at a lower charging rate. 'Discharging' status means that the charging rate is below the power that the device is consuming so it slows down the discharge rate but does not re-charge.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test

The key findings:
(1) Samsung Galaxy 7.7 cannot be charged with this car charger with either port
(2) Both Nexus phone and Nexus 7 tablet running Jelly Bean 4.21 charged at AC rate on both ports.

The table below summarizes my findings:

Nexus 7 Tablet
--------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....1% charge increase (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....1% charge increase (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....2% charge increase (charging cable)

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....2% charge increase (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....3% charge increase (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....4% charge increase (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....3% charge increase (charging cable)

Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7.7
--------------------------
1 AMP port.......AC rate.....discharging (data cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....discharging (data cable)

1 AMP port.......AC rate.....discharging (charging cable)
2.1 AMP port.....AC rate.....discharging (charging cable)

I received this car charger from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. Running the same set of test on all the chargers I own allows me to provide an unbiased review. By comparing the results of the tests for chis charger to the other car chargers I tested, this car charger earned a 5 star rating. The only thing this charger did not do well is handle my Samsung tablet. However neither did other generic car chargers, Samsung tablet only works well with the car charger made by Samsung.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Product review: Ideative SS1630A-03 Socket Sense 6-Outlet Expandable 1080 Joules Surge Protector

Before I purchased Ideative power strip I had three power strips sitting next to each other charging various batteries and gadgets, it was a mess! The reason I had so many strips is that many of my chargers take up more than one slot, so it took a lot of strips to house them all. I am attaching a photo collage of 2 photos that will illustrate how I use this strip to hold 2 AA battery chargers, one AAA charger, one camera charger, hand held vacuum charger and a two slot USB charger. The photo can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

The first photo shows the empty strip: it has 6 outlets. The strip has 5 movable segments, which can be adjusted to fit your various devices. The 5 segments with outlets are 1.5" wide each and the width of the moving segment can be changed from 0" to 1.25". The plugs holes are oriented on an angle. Ideally another 0.25" of the inch between the segments would have made it possible to fit all my charges next to each other in any order, as it stands now finding the optimal configuration is a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. This is a thick power strip, the raised part of the strip near the cord is 2.25" from the surface. The power cord on this charger is a fairly short, it is 34 inches.

The second photo shows how I plugged in my chargers. Luckily some of my chargers are not polarized, so I could orient them in different ways making the long USB charger hang over the edge where there was room.

Overall, I am very pleased with this strip. It is a space saver!


You can find this 3 foot cord on Amazon by following this link


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review