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Friday, August 30, 2013

Product review: Bolse 6 Watt LED Light Bulb 450 Lumen, 45W Replacement

In this review I am comparing 450 Lumen Bolse 6 Watt LED light Bulb (Warm White 3000K), 450 Lumen Bolse 6 Watt LED light Bulb (White 6000K) and 60 watt Sylvania incandescent light. The Bolse bulbs are rated as 45Watt replacement and they surprised me by being brighter than I expected.

To help my comparison I am attaching a collage of 5 photos.

Photo #1 shows Bolse LED light next to 60 Watt Sylvania incandescent bulb. As you see not only the buld is standard E26/E27 but the size of the bulb is the same as an incandescent bulb. This means these bulbs will fit into all old fixtures without poking out.

Photo #2 shows Bolse White LED light in a two light fixture: the LED light is on the left and the incandescent light is on the right.

Photo #3 shows Bolse Warm White LED light in the same two light fixture: the LED light is on the left and the incandescent light is on the right.

The light from the Bolse warm white light was very similar to incandescent bulb light. The brightness of 450 Lumen led light was quite close to 60 Watt incandescent. The main noticeable difference is the difference in the direction of the light. As you see in the photos the top of the light fixture is dark when used with the LED light.

I received these two LED lights for testing and review (be it positive or negative) from the manufacture.

Overall, I liked the lights, however I ran into a defect in one the lens cover. As I was screwing in the light for the first time (holding it by the metal base) the plastic lens fell off from one of the bulbs. When looked inside of the lens I saw a plastic shard that came off one of the edges. I was able to put the lens back on, but it comes off I push on it again. The second bulb does not have this problem. Photo #5 shows the broken off piece and the edge, and photo #4 shows what the light looks like with the lens off.

I contacted the manufacture to find out if the 1 year warranty applies to the lens damage I encountered. I also wanted to know whether the consumer would need to return the bulb or if photographic evidence would be sufficient. LowerPriceUSA responded that the damage to the lens is covered by the 1 year warranty and that "Customers do not have to mail it back. The photo proof will work." This is a consumer friendly warranty and for that reason I am not docking the bulb any stars.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Product review: Satechi Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Trigger

video
The Satechi Smart Trigger is a type of a remote control. Remote controls have many benefits from artistic to practical - from taking long exposure photos without a shake to including the photographer in the photo. So what is different about this remote control from a standard infra-red remote control? It provides you a bit more control over the timing, gives you a timer on the screen of your mobile device, and you don't need to remember to bring another gadget along on your trip. In addition it has a mode that allows you to take photos with an interval giving you an ability to take time lapse photos.

So overall this is a useful device. However the current version of the mobile app has many problems, it often gets into an invalid state which requires several corrective steps and the user interface of the device is not intuitive. I made a video where I demonstrate the corrective steps, I hope it will save people time of figuring it out on their own.

COMPATIBILITY
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To be happy with this gadget you need to own the supported camera and the supported mobile device. My Canon camera was one of the supported models, my Galaxy 7.7 Tablet was not compatible, but my iPad Mini did work. Note that I included a photo showing a screen shot of the Google Play with incompatible message in case you want to check if your device is compatible prior to purchase. The photo collage can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

The Satechi Smart Trigger is not compatible with all devices because it uses Bluetooth 4.0, requiring your smart phone or tablet to also use Bluetooth 4.0. The compatible devices using Bluetooth 4.0 are: iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Mini, iPad 3, Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, and Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

The Android store would not let me install the app as it flagged my device incompatible. iTunes App store did not find the application under iPad apps, but the app I found under iPhone apps worked on my iPad Mini.

PAIRING TROUBLESHOOTING
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The difficulty comes with pairing the device to the tablet. It is possible to get the app into a wedged state in a number of way with several different errors. I show several of the error conditions I encountered in the video. The solution to all problems is the following three step process, which I also include in my video.

✔ 1. You need to make your mobile device forget the bluetooth profile associated with Smart Trigger (under settings)
✔ 2. You need to delete the Bluetooth profile tag from within the app itself
✔ 3. You need to stop the app from running. This is accomplished by touching the home button twice, selecting Smart Trigger from the list of running apps and holding down the icon for a few seconds until the red minus sign appears, then selecting the red minus to stop the app.

These three steps clean up whatever went wrong in the previous attempt, and you can start again

✔ 4. Open the Smart Trigger App with the Smart Trigger receiver turned off.
✔ 5. Click on the scan menu of the Smart Trigger App, press the button on the receiver once. Sometimes scan starts automatically.
✔ 6. When the prompt to pair come up, select 'pair'
✔ 7. Now the *key* and yet not obvious step is that you are not done pairing when you select 'pair' button, you need to touch 'Smart Trigger' label that is displayed on the screen. Note that this text does not look like a button, it just text. On the left you will see 'Smart Trigger' text, on the right you will see a trash can. Do NOT touch the trash can, touch the 'Smart Trigger' text.
The 'Smart Trigger' label does not always appear on the screen, sometimes you just see a pictogram of the camera. If you don't see 'Smart trigger' label and you cannot touch it, the pairing will fail and you will need to start again with step 1.
✔ 8. When you touch the label the grey Connection Status icon turns red confirming that you have paired the device
✔ 9. Once you see the red indicator you can attach the cable that goes from the Satechi unit to your camera's remote control port.
Satechi recommends that the camera be set to Bulb mode and Manual Exposure. You can use Start Trigger when the camera is set 'P' mode and 'Timed shot mode' but the camera does not allow the use of Bulb Mode while in 'P', so you will not be able to use all of the features of Smart Trigger. You can only set BULB in the Smart Trigger App to the maximum exposure length allowed by your camera in 'P'. The same limitation applies to 'AV' mode. 'TV' mode is not compatible with the Smart Trigger.

Once the pairing occurs the app works fairly well until the next time you need to do the bluetooth pairing.

I should note that Satechi has some nice troubleshooting videos on YouTube, however each of the corrective steps is in several separate videos so it takes quite a bit of research to find all the relevant steps. I hope my video which has all the steps together will save you some research time.

FUTURE APPP UPDATES:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have reported the issues I encountered to the manufacture. They told me that there is work in progress on the next version of the app (as of May 23 2013):
Upcoming app updates will include fixing the issue with Bluetooth connectivity (the pairing process) and allowing users to select shutter speeds of less than 1 second.

Note that the Smart Trigger device mounts in the camera's shot shoe, so with the smart trigger mounted you will not be able to use the hot shoe for your on camera flash. Smart Trigger does not communicate with the camera, it uses the hot shoe for convenience, so in a pinch you can let Smart Trigger tangle and use the hot shoe for your flash.

WISH LIST:
~~~~~~~~~~~
There is a future enhancement that I would love to see in the Smart Trigger (after the connectivity issues are addressed). I would like to have an ability to see through the app on the phone what the camera sees. This way I can adjust the composition when the camera is mounted in a way that does not allow me to see the viewfinder or LCD screen of the camera itself. With the availability of SD cards with WI FI capability this sounds like a real possibility.

I received Satechi Smart Trigger for testing, evaluation and review. I noted the positives and negatives of my experience, and I hope you will find the video and troubleshooting tips useful. I gave Smart Trigger 3 stars - I thought the mobile app rated 2 stars at this time and the device itself 4 stars. I will monitor the updates to this mobile app and once the pairing issues are fixed will re-evaluate.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Product review: Hipe 6 LED Automatic Motion-sensing Night Light

Hipe Motion Activated Light is 3.5" in diameter. It can be activated by motion or by turned on manually. In the motion detection mode it is also light sensitive. Manual on/off works both when it is light and dark. The light runs on three AA batteries which are NOT included.

I am attaching a collage of two photos which show the light turned on. These photos can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

The first photo shows a close-up of the light. You can see that only a crescent shape portion lights up. The LED lights are covered by a milky lens which defuses the light and is a good feature for a night light when your eyes are not used to the bright light.

The second photo shows the light in a small dark room so you can see how much light it produces. The stock photo that shows the light in a stairway makes it look like this light lights up more area than it does in reality. The amount of light is reasonable for a night light, enough not to be in a total darkness.

The light can operate in two modes: motion activated night light and flashlight mode when you can manually turn it on and carry with you. The shape of the light is a bit awkward to carry and the light not very bright for a flashlight. I am unlikely to use it this mode much. However in a power outage it is nice that I can detach it and place the light somewhere else.

To operate the light in flashlight mode you need to press switch "on" or "off" manually.

To operate the light in night light mode, you need to leave the switch in "off" position and set the slider to 30 seconds or 60 seconds. The light will come on automatically when motion is detected and stay on for 30 seconds or 60 seconds as selected. The motion is detected within 16 feet from the light.

The light can be mounted in several ways. It comes with a sticky tape Velcro. One side of the sticky tape can be attached to the cover, and another one attached to the wall. This allows you to remove the light when you want to use it in "flashlight" mode. The second option is to mount the light using two screws included in the package.

The light is not very bright, so I find it best fits the role of the night light than the flashlight.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Monday, August 26, 2013

Product review: QQ-Tech® Newest Mini Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard

video
QQ-tech keyboard is 6 3/8" wide and 2 3/4" wide. It weighs 2.8 oz on my digital postal scale. Each key is 1/4" wide and 1/4" tall. This keyboard has individual keys made out of hard plastic. Despite the small size I found that my typing accuracy is pretty good, I have yet to hit a key I did not mean to strike. The keyboard has a very nice feedback: the click feels good and you hear it. I am using this keyboard with my Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet. I found that I type much faster using it than on screen keyboard, especially when I have to mix letters and numbers in the text. Pairing is remembered from previous sessions even when I turn off the keyboard and the device.

The touchpad is sensitive and responds well, however with the tablet's touch screen I find that it is easier to touch the screen rather than to use the touchpad on the keyboard. However for the use with non-touch screen devices I would use it with no issues.

I am attaching a video which shows pairing with my Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Android tablet and then typing some text. What is particularly nice is that some application do not display on screen keyboard, so you get the benefit of the entire screen containing the information without being covered by on screen keyboard. Some applications still display on screen keyboard even when the QQ-tech keyboard paired with the device, so it depends if the application developer anticipated bluetooth keyboard use or not.

I end the video showing the backlight function of the keyboard. It is turned on by hitting a key that looks like a yellow sun on the top row. As you see in the video this works really well.

I am also attaching a collage of two photos, which show the keyboard next to a ruler as well next to my finger for a size reference. The photos can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

I received a QQ-tech keyboard for testing and review (be it positive or negative) from the manufacture. I hope the video will help you set your expectations.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this keyboard. The only thing the I wish that came with it is a little carrying pouch as this little keyboard will be doing a lot of travelling with me.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Product review: 35 Neodymium Magnets inch by NeoMag

These tiny magnets really work! I have a bunch of pretty bear magnets collected all over the world covering my refrigerator holding up notes, appointments, coupons... Quite often when I try to jam one more thing under them they just fall off (and sadly sometimes break). I just replaced all of them with these tiny neodymium magnets and lined up the pretty magnets at the top just for decoration.

What I like about these magnets
✔ Each magnet is so powerful that it can hold many pieces of paper. In the attached photo collage I am showing a one magnet holding 7 layers of papers. It was still holding very strong at that point.
✔ The magnets are so small that they are not covering much of information. I can see all information on appointment cards and other small papers attached to the fridge. Photo #1 shows one magnet in my hand for size reference.
✔ The package contains 35 magnets, after I replaced all my existing magnets I had 20 magnets (in Photo #3) left for future use.

Some things to be aware of
✔ These magnets will not magnetize against the stainless steel refrigerators as they are magnetized themselves
✔ The magnets are very small and might be attractive to small kids, thus the magnets are a choking or swallowing hazard for them
✔ These magnets are made from neodymium which is the strongest magnet on the planet. This material is fairly fragile and is held together with nickel coating. This means you need to handle the magnets with care. I have not encountered any breakage even though I have dropped a couple on the floor: they jumped as I tried separating them from each other.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Product review: 40" Wide X 5 Yard Long Natural Burlap from A.K. Trading Company



I am using this burlap in the garden to protect bushes from harsh New England weather. I am very pleased with this order.

✔ The burlap is of good thickness. I am attaching a collage of three photos: Photo #1 shows my hand under the burlap in the sun, so you can really see the weave and the thickness of the material. Photo #2 shows one of the edges, Photo #3 shows the others edge as the finish is slightly different on two sides.

✔ The entire 5 yards I ordered are very even. There are no imperfections, knots, holes, thinning. The entire piece is good.

✔ I ordered 5 yards, which is 180 inches, I received 188 inches. Nice!

The material has a typical burlap smell which mostly aired out in a couple of weeks.

Good quality product and getting a little more than ordered go a long way to build repeat customers. I will be back!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Product review: Bolse® Charging Dock Cradle with 2nd Battery Charger for Galaxy Note II

If you use your cell for phone for business or are in general a heavy cell phone user you know that one battery is not enough to take you through the day. This cradles allows you to charge the phone and a spare battery at the same time.

The cradle weighs in at 4.4oz on my digital scale, and 4" wide x 3" tall x 3 3/4" long. The bottom has non-skid feet. It comes with an USB cable which is 48" end to end. The phone can be charged with or without the skin. The status of charging will be displayed on the phone. Battery charging is indicated by a red LED. When the charging is completed the LED will turn green. If the LED does not light up when you insert the battery check if you inserted the battery correctly.

One nice thing about Samsung phones is that you can swap out the standard battery for extended battery. The extended battery more than doubles the capacity of the original battery, however it also significantly increases the phone thickness. Note II with standard battery is 6.4mm thick, the extended battery it is 8.4mm in the middle section. The phone thickness with extended battery is 18.4mm.

This cradle is designed to fit only the standard battery and the phone with the standard battery.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Product review: Mondial Slow Juicer

video

This juicer works very well. It quickly processed all the fruits and vegetables I have tried so far. I tried tasting the pulp produced by the juicer and it was pretty tasteless, no juice left in it at all. I had no problems with the juicer jamming or having any other issues.

The juicer is very simple to use. It has only three settings: off, forward (on), and reverse.

The manual has several the following recommendation for usage:
✔ Do not use longer than 10 minutes at a time
✔ Remove hard seeds before juicing
✔ Do not operate with wet hands
✔ Do not use anything as a pusher other than the provided pusher
Note that I never to needed to use the pusher as the juicer "sucked in" all the fruits and vegetables out of the spout without needing any help. I did pre-cut fruits and vegetables into 1 inch to 2 inch chunks.
✔ If the juicer gets stuck turn off the juicer, then put it in reverse for a few seconds, and then restart normally again.

The juicer is fairly heavy and substantial, it has suction cups on the bottom, so it attaches itself very well to the counter top and does not move during the juicing process. I found it to be quick to assemble and disassemble.

The manual recommends not using the dishwasher to clean. At the end of my video you will see me washing the juicer. There is one tricky part to washing - getting the pulp out of the spout where the pulp comes out as this spout is a narrow closed tube. The juicer comes with a nice cleaning brush, which I found quite helpful in cleaning the juicer.

I received the juicer from the manufacturer with a request for an honest review whether positive and negative. I was also asked to provide a video review to document my experience with the juicer, so that the potential buyers of this juicer could see it in action and have a good idea of what to expect. I hope you will find my video useful. Overall, I thought the juicer worked very well and I would recommend it.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, August 16, 2013

Product review: UtechSmart USB 3.0 Card Reader

video


UtechSmart card reader is SD and micro SD card reader that plugs into your USB port. The unit itself is fairly small 2.5" x 1.375" x 0.375". It does not require an external power source, it gets the power it needs from the USB connection. The unit weighs 0.5 oz.

I tested the card reader on Windows 7 and Linux. Note that it is documented to work with Windows and Mac, but I have successfully tested it under Linux as well.

I tested with microSDHC Class 6 Flash Memory Card and Class 10 SD card.

Each operating system I tested saw USB memory sticks and cards plugged into all slot in the card read without problems.

To evaluate similar devices I test each by copying the same large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. My goal is to test that each port works, and to compare the performance relative to other card readers I have tested. Since I use the same set of files I can compare different devices in "apples to apples" comparison.

I ran each test three times to make sure the results were consistent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST #1 SD card
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.551s (cpu) 1:48.54 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST #2 micro SD card
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.373s (cpu) 2:24.55 (clock time)

I received this card reader for testing and review from the manufacturer. The card reader performed well in my tests. It was not the fastest card reader in my write test, a larger card reader which had external power performed slightly better (1:09.36 clock time for micro sd and 1:27.81 clock time for sd), but the small size makes this card very convenient to use. I find it especially handy to use with my laptop which does not have a built-in card reader.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Product review: UtechSmart USB 3.0 Superspeed Multi-in-1 4-Slots Memory Card Reader

video


UtechSmart card reader is card reader that plugs into your USB port. It is capable of USB 3.0 speeds and also is backwards compatible to USB 2.0/1.1. It has a nice feature that indicates at what speed you are transmitting data: red indicator shows your transfer is at USB 2.0 speed and green indicator shows that you are transferring data at USB 3.0 speed. USB 2.0 speed is 480 Mbit/s. USB 3.0 is 10 times faster than USB 2.0 4.8 Gbps.

This card reader works with following formats:
SDXC (up to 2TB), SDHC, SD, CF, High-Speed CF(UDMA), MS, M2, Micro SDXC, Micro SDHC, Micro SD cards.

The unit itself is fairly small 2.25?" x 2.25" x 0.375". It does not require an external power source, it gets the power it needs from the USB connection. The card reader has a built-in USB cable which is 4" long. The unit weighs 1.4 oz.

I tested the card reader on Windows 7 and Linux. Note that it is documented to work with Windows and Mac, but I have successfully tested it under Linux as well.

I tested with Class 10 SD card and 133X CF card.

Each operating system I tested saw the cards plugged into the card reader without any problems.

To evaluate similar devices I tested each port by copying the same large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes. I measured CPU time and clock time. My goal is to test that each port works, and to compare the performance relative to other card readers I have tested. Since I use the same set of files I can compare different devices in "apples to apples" comparison.

I ran each test three times to make sure they were consistent.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST #1 SD card
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.242s (cpu) 1:40.82 (clock time)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TEST #2 micro CF card
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.339s (cpu) 0:42.69 (clock time)

This card performed better than other card readers I have tested.

Hoo Too card reader (ASIN B00CDY0DSA):
CF card:___________1.234s (cpu) 1:27.81 (clock time)
SD card:___________1.241s (cpu) 1:46.49 (clock time)
UtechSmart USB 3.0 Card Reader (ASIN B00CBTQW6E)
SD card:___________1.551s (cpu) 1:48.54 (clock time)

I received this card reader for testing and review from the manufacturer. The card reader performed well in my tests. The card is small, fast, and a short USB cable allows it to fit well even into a laptop where the USB slots are tightly packed. I find it especially handy to use with my laptop which does not have a built-in card reader.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, August 12, 2013

Product review: FRiEQ® T2 Premium Universal Dashboard Windshield Car Mount Holder


video

The best feature of this cradle is that the jaws of this phone holder open up with just a push of a button. I am fairly short so it is always take extra contortions for me to reach the windshield mount, and if it does not open easily it takes me extra time to mount the phone. This windshield mount is quick and easy to use. The vacuum mount is a lever which is also easy to use. It sticks well not only to the windshield. Unfortunately when I attach it to my dash it falls off easily, just the movement of the car is enough to dislodge it.

The width of the holder adjusts from 1.5" to 3" (note that the description says 3.9", when I measured with a measuring tape the distance between inside jaws is 3"). The depth of the holder is 0.75". The depth of the holder works with a regular slim phone (with or without a gel skin) and even with extended battery which makes the phone significantly fatter than a standard battery.

The cradle can be rotated 360 degrees and adjusted in many different ways very easily. The suction is strong when the surface is perfectly smooth and is easy to operate by a lever on the base. The gel pad is washable, so when it picks up dirt all you need to do is wash it rather than replace it.

I received this phone holder from the manufacture for evaluation, testing and review. Based on my experience I recommend this phone for any smart phone with or without extended battery if you need to mount your devices on the windshield. If you need a dash mount, this is not the right holder to get. I give it 5 stars as a windshield mount and 1 star as a dash mount.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆





Saturday, August 10, 2013

Product review: Dalen NB1 7-Foot by 20-Foot Bird-X Net 3/4-Inch Mesh


I purchased this netting to protect miniature raspberry bushes from the birds. The size of the netting openings is just right and it was fairly easy to work with.
I am attaching a photo which shows the netting on my hand so you can see the relative size of the netting grid, as well as over the potted raspberry bush so you see how it looks from a distance.

Overall, I am pleased with it and plan to re-use it next year.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Product review: 3 in 1 Card Reader Adapter Cable Camera Connection Kit, 3 Port Card Reader for Ipad and iPad Mini by Eurekka®


I tested this 3 in 1 card using my SONY NEX-5N camera, USB memory stick, and SD card with iPadMini. I am attaching a photo collage that I will be referencing in this review, which can be found by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

Attaching the camera with USB cable just worked. Copying photos, videos, and other files from a memory card/stick also works if you follow the rules that iPad Mini expects. I describe these rules below.

Sometimes I need to copy files to my iPad Mini while I don't have a Wi Fi or my PC with iTunes handy. I want to be able to insert a memory card and copy the files to my iPad Mini. 3-in-1 card reader allowed me to do this, but it required me to figure out how to use what iPad Mini allows me to do to accomplish my desired goal.

I discovered that not every memory stick works in the card reader. Some memory sticks generate an error message "The connected USB device requires too much power". See photo #1 in collage of photos I am including for reference in this review. The smaller older memory sticks tend to work better. None of my large memory sticks worked, however one of the old non brand name 1Gig memory sticks worked (an old 1Gig SanDisk did not).

The 3 in 1 Card Reader documentation says "When you insert U-Disk/TF/SD card into the reader your iPad automatically opens the photo app which lets you select which photos to import." This is how it worked when I used it directly with the camera. However, when I copied several photos to a memory stick and inserted it in to the card reader and nothing happened.

Turns out I had to follow a very specific format for naming my files and the directory structure where I place them:

✔ 1. Use FAT file format on the USB drive (this is the format used by cameras and thus expected by iPad)

✔ 2. Create a folder on your memory stick called DCIM.

✔ 3. Copy your files into that folder. The files have to be stored directly in the DCIM folder of the memory card or memory stick. No sub-folders are allowed, images at the top level are not seen.

✔ 4. Name the photo images following the camera image conventions:

"_DSC" followed by 4 digit number followed by ".JPG", for example, _DCS0001.JPG.
You can also transfer movies by naming the files with an 8 digit number followed by .m4v extension, e.g. "00000001.m4v"

✔ 5. As soon as I renamed the files on my card/stick to follow these conventions iPad Mini immediately began showing thumbnails of the images that are on the card. When the transfer process is done you'll be asked if you want to delete the images that were just transferred or if you'd prefer to keep them on the memory stick/card.

This technique could be used to move files other than photos or movies, as long as you have an iPad app that knows how to open such files. For example you can zip text files into a zip file myfile.zip and then rename the zip file to be called myfilezip.pdf. When Photo app starts you can import your PDF file. To get the PDF file out of the Photo import folder, you need to open it with an app that knows how to handle pdf extension (for example, Files Pro). Then you can rename the file back to myfile.zip and extract your files.

➨ ➨ Warning: do not leave the card reader plugged into the iPad (even without a memory stick) if you are not using it. I left it in for the day and it totally drained my battery. Without the card reader plugged in I only need to recharge my iPad Mini every few days.

I received this card reader from the manufacture for an honest review. All in all 3 in 1 Card Reader is a useful gadgets at a very good price. I hope my tips will help you get the most out of it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Product review: Bolse® M2 10000mAh Dual Port External Battery Pack

video

I tested Bolse M2 (10,000 mAh) Power Pack with Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (running ICS 4.0.4) and iPad Mini. This external battery has exceptionally good behavior with iPad Mini and average performance with Galaxy Tablet.

I received this power bank from the manufacturer for an honest review be it positive or negative. Top reviewers are often asked to review new battery packs and one of the benefits of being asked to test different power banks is that it gives me an opportunity to compare them to each other using the same charging test, so I can compare them using "apples to apples" comparison. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of each unit.

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. In addition I tested charging two mobile devices at the same time. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test.

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.

➨ General features:
======================

Bolse M2 external battery weighs 8.7 oz. Its size is 2.5" x 5.125" x 0.75".

The pack has two USB output ports. The package include 3 tips, among them mini USB and iPad. The package also contains a micro USB cable. Galaxy tab connector and lightening cable for iPad Mini were not included and I used my own charging cables for the tests below. Some external batteries include a small flashlight, this external battery does not.

➨ Test Results:
======================

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet (using my own Galaxy tab connector cable)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A: AC ~~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A: AC ~~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet (using my own lightening connector cable)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A: AC ~~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A: AC ~~~~~~ 6% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet at the same time
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A: AC ~~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy Tablet)
2A: AC ~~~~~~ 5% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)

➨ Key finding:
======================
✔ This external battery has a very good behavior with iPad Mini, and an average performance with Galaxy Tablet. Overall it earned a 4 star rating.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Product review: Plugable 12 Outlet Power Surge Protector with Built-in Dual USB Charging Ports


Plugable 12 Outlet power surge protector provides 12 power outlets and 2 USB ports. 4 of the AC outlets are set away from the others so I could plug in my battery rechargers without covering any other outlets. The power strips measures 12" x 6" x 1", has a 6 foot cord. It claims 4320 Joules of surge protection for all 12 power outlets. The switch on the side of the power strip servers the role of power switch as well as the circuit breaker switch. Each outlet has an individual sliding cover, so you can close any outlet that is not in use or is partially obscured by another plug/charger.

I am attaching a collage of 2 photos: Photo #1 shows a variety of battery chargers, USB chargers, and a regular size small plug in this power strip. I found the outlets well spaced out to fit my needs. Photo #2 shows one minor annoyance I found in this strip. Both sides of the strip glow with green LED lights that cannot be turned on. It seems fashionable for every device to glow in the dark, I wish this was an optional light with a way to turn it off.

To test the USB ports I ran the test I use to test all chargers and power banks. The benefit of running the same test on all devices is that it allows me to compare them to each other in "apples to apples" comparison. 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.

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.

iPad Mini
_________

Port 1................ 2%.....AC
Port 2................ 2%.....AC

Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet
_________________________

Port 1................ 0%.....discharging with data cable
Port 1................ 2%.....AC with charging cable
Port 2................ 0%.....discharging with data cable
Port 2................ 2%.....AC with charging cable

iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet at the same time
_________________________________________________________
Port 1................ 2%.....AC (iPad Mini)
Port 2................ 3%.....AC with charging cable (Galaxy tab)
Port 1................ 2%.....AC with charging cable (Galaxy tab)
Port 2................ 2%.....AC (iPad Mini)

These charging rates fall in the middle range of my tests, not as good as the fastest chargers but not the slowest. Given that it a bonus functionality on the well spaced power strip I am satisfied with this performance.

Plugable products offers a one year limited warranty against any defects in materials or workmanship. The warranty information can be located on Plugable web site by selecting "Support/Warranty" from the top menu of their website (and the website name is the product name followed by dot com). They state that they will repair or replace products which fail because of any defect in the first year after purchase.

Plugable provided this unit to me for testing, evaluation and review be it positive or negative. I am very pleased with the layout of the outlets. The USB ports provided reasonable speed of charging even though they were not as fast as the best rapid chargers I own. Overall, I recommend it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Product review: Bolse® M3 6600mAh Dual Port External Battery Pack

video

I tested Bolse M3 (6600 mAh) Power Pack with Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (running ICS 4.0.4) and iPad Mini. It showed exceptionally good behavior with iPad Mini and average performance with Galaxy Tablet.

I received this power bank from the manufacturer for an honest review be it positive or negative. Top reviewers are often asked to review new battery packs and one of the benefits of being asked to test different power banks is that it gives me an opportunity to compare them to each other using the same charging test, so I can compare them using "apples to apples" comparison. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of each unit.

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. In addition I tested charging two mobile devices at the same time. Each line in the table below represents a separate 10 minute test.

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.

➨ General features:
======================

Bolse M3 external battery weighs 5.7 oz. Its size is 2.375" x 4" x 0.75".

The pack has two USB output ports. The package include 3 tips, among them mini USB and iPad. The package also contains a micro USB cable. Galaxy tab connector and lightening cable for iPad Mini were not included and I used my own charging cables for the test below. Some external batteries include a small flashlight, this external battery does not.

➨ Test Results:
======================

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet (using my own Galaxy tab connector cable)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Smart: AC ~~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
iPad: AC ~~~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet (using my own lightening connector cable)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Smart: AC ~~~~~~ 6% change in charge in 10 minutes
iPad: AC ~~~~~~~ 6% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini and Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet at the same time
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Smart: AC ~~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy Tablet)
iPad: AC ~~~~~~~ 5% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)

➨ Key finding:
======================
✔ This external battery has exceptionally good behavior with iPad Mini, and average performance with Galaxy Tablet. Overall it earned a 5 star rating.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Product review: Yubi Power YP250ABLU 2500mAh Ultra Compact Lipstick Size Portable Power Bank

I tested Yubi Power YP250ABLU 2500mAh Ultra Compact power bank 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), iPad Mini and Sansa Clip+ MP3.

I own several wall chargers and power bricks and run the same set on tests on each of them, so I can be compare them to each other using "apples to apples" comparison. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased results as the numbers speak for the performance of each unit.

These comparison tests reveal that this charger provides pretty good speed of charging and capacity (even though it is not the fastest or has the most capacity), however it is unbeaten in its compact size.

The size of the power bank is 3.75" x 0.75" x 0.75". It weighs 2.9 oz on my digital scale. It is quite compact, however I need to point that the lipstick comparison is slightly exaggerated. I am attaching a photo collage of 6 photos, and Photo #5 show this power bank next to a couple of lipsticks for relative size comparison. The photos can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo in this listing.

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

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. Photo #1 show what the Battery App shows during one of the tests.

✔ Nexus 7 Tablet
--------------
chargind cable -- AC ............. 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
charging cable -- AC ............. 5% change in charge in 10 minutes
data cable ------ USB............. 0% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy Tablet 7.7
--------------------------
charging cable -- AC ............. 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

***Note for Samsung Tablet users*** Yubi power provides Samsung Tablet connector tips free on request. If you already have interchageable connector cables (this unit does not come with interchangeable tip cables) these Samsung tablet tips give me much better speed of charging then using a cable that came with my Galaxy tablet.

✔ iPad Mini
--------------------------
iPad Mini cable -- AC ............. 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

In addition to 10 minute charge speed tests, I ran two other tests:

✔ iPad Mini
--------------------------
Starting with iPad Mini discharged and Yubi Power Bank full I was able to charge iPad Mini to 29% full at which point the power bank was out of power (about 3 hours)

✔ Sansa Clip+ MP3
--------------------------
When I charge Sansa MP3 with a standard AC charger, the MP3 player goes into charging mode, displaying the charging animated icon. When it is plugged into the Yubi Power Ultra Compact power bank the MP3 continued to play the content. This is a great benefit for MP3 player with built-in battery, this means I charge and listen at the same time. I do not have to wait for the battery to recharge. Photo #6 shows Sansa next to the power bank for relative size comparison.

I received this unit for evaluation, testing, and review from the manufacture. Running a set of standard test allows me to provide unbiased numeric evaluation and comparison of different units. Based on this comparison this unit measures up very well.

➨ Overall:
------------------
Great size power bank to have on the go. Very good performance for a unit of such a compact size. When I exercise this is the power bank I take with me.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Product review: Santamedical Kneading Massager Cushion

video
Whenever I go by Brookstone or Sharper Image store in the mall I stop by to sit in their massage chairs. This little cushion gives you an inexpensive simulation of an expensive chair. The massaging heads work quite well, you just need to move the cushion where you want it to be by hand. It actually works better than I expected from looking at the photo.

The cushion is 12" by 7" and is 3.5" thick (at the massage heads). It comes with two cords one for AC outlet and one for the car port.  The back of the cushion has 11.5" strap.  It goes over the head restraint in the car, but does not fit the back of my chair (too narrow).  So when I use it at home I hold it in place by pressing my back against it.  That works fine.  How hard you press against it depends how much pressure you want from the massager. If you press too hard you slow it down and properly put undue pressure on the motor.  The AC cord is 78", which is a little too short for me to reach the power strip near my computer desk (an extra extension cord solves the problem, of course).  The power brick is fairly large (3.25") and takes up two slots on the power strip.

I am attaching a video shows everything included in the package, a page from instructions which shows how to position the cushion, followed by the video of the massaging heads.

I received this massage cushion for testing and review (be it positive or negative) from the manufacturer. I hope the video will help you set your expectations.  Overall, this massage cushion works better than I expected, and it feels good after a long day in front of the computer.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, August 2, 2013

Product review: SHARKK Apple iPad Mini Keyboard Bluetooth Case Cover Stand

video

This is a very nice keyboard and case in every respect except that it is difficult to take off.

This keyboard is not only a bluetooth keyboard it can also serve as a stand and a case. It keeps the tablet very firmly in both horizontal and vertical orientation. In fact so firmly that I have had trouble removing it from my iPad Mini, I had to take it to work where a male co-worker with strong fingers was able to remove it after a bit of a struggle. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have failed in my attempts to remove the case, but figured I have to confess for an honest review.

Sharkk keyboard is 8" long and 5.5" wide. Alone the keyboard case weighs 9.1 oz. Together with the iPad Mini it weighs 1 lb 3.9 oz. Each keyboard key is 1/2" by 1/2" in size. The size of the keys is very comfortable, I did not feel I had to adjust my hand position much. Both the individual keys and the case are made out of hard plastic. The keyboard has nice feedback, I felt confident that I was making good contact.

This keyboard case fit both my iPad Mini and my Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet. These two tablets are almost identical in size so the case fit them both, but Galaxy did not snap in the same way iPad Mini did. I tried Galaxy first and was able to remove it. Then came the iPad Mini test and now they have become very attached to each other.

I have used several other blue tooth keyboards in the past and here are some of the major comparison points:
1. This keyboard has good balance between key size and comfortable typing
2. It has nice feedback and the accuracy of my typing was good
3. This keyboard has no back lighting, so I needed external light to use it in the dark
4. I encountered issues with removing the case

I found that I type much faster using this keyboard than on screen keyboard, especially when I have to mix letters and numbers in the text. Pairing is remembered from previous sessions even when I turn off the keyboard and the device.

I am attaching a video which shows pairing the keyboard and using it with iPad Mini. What is particularly nice is that some application do not display on screen keyboard, so you get the benefit of the entire screen containing the information without being covered by on screen keyboard. Some applications still display on screen keyboard even when the keyboard paired with the device, so it depends if the application developer anticipated bluetooth keyboard use or not.

I received the Sharkk keyboard for testing and review (be it positive or negative) from the manufacturer. I hope the video will help you set your expectations.

I liked everything about it except for trouble with removing the case. However the case fits is so nicely that the tablet feels like a super-duper netbook computer where the keyboard is part of the device, not just a tablet with a separate keyboard.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Food review: Gourmet salts from San Francisco Salt Company

video

I have to confess that I have not been aware of how many different flavors of gourmet salts existed prior to the offer from San Francisco Salt Company to review some of their gourmet salts. I was intrigued and agreed to review several samples. I received 5 samples and I was amazed by the variety of beautiful colors of these salts.

I decided that the best way to review them is to compare the five salt samples in appearance and flavor. I invited a friend to help me sample the salts, so we can both agree if we could tell the difference between different salts. They definitely looked different... but do they taste different? Here are the results of of our taste comparison. I am also attaching a video that I shot during our taste comparison, the numbers I am using below match the numbers in the video.

#1 Black Hawaiian Lava salt - smokey black in color,we thought it had the lightest (least salty) salt flavor of the 5 samples. This salt is harvested from pacific waters using traditional methods of solar evaporation, allowing the salt crystals to form with the much desired trace minerals intact. The salt obtains its coloring from activated coconut shell charcoal. San Francisco Salt Chef recommends it for use with desserts, and I can see why: it has a light salty flavor so it would work well for example with chocolates sprinkled with salt as I see in gourmet chocolate shops.

#2 Smoked Cherrywood Salt - rich brown in color. This salt has the strongest flavor, it was definitely very smokey. It is slightly saltier than Hawaiian, but not as salty as the other three salts that I tasted. Smoked Cherrywood Sea Salt is made with pure sea salt that has been slowly smoked above a Maine Cherrywood fire. The result is a smooth salty smokey flavor. San Francisco Salt Chef recommends recommends it for meat, poultry, and fish.

#3 Himalayan Salt - pretty pink in color and quite salty. The color does not add any flavor, just looks pretty. It could be use for any culinary use, but because it is so pretty I think using it as table salt in a shaker is how I plan to use it.

#4 Alaea Hawaiian Red Sea Salt - rich brick color, quite salty. This salt is harvested from pacific waters using traditional methods of solar evaporation, allowing the salt crystals to form with the much desired trace minerals intact. The salt is infused with Hawaiian volcanic clay called “alae", which gives it an extraordinary red color. The alae clay also adds nutritional value by providing a source of digestible dietary iron and other trace minerals. The color does not add any flavor, so it could work in any culinary use, but because the color is dramatic I think it would work best when you need to sprinkle it on something. It is widely used in Hawaii as a key seasoning for many of their native dishes including the kalua pig, poke, and Hawaiian jerky. This salt also goes well with pasta, stir-fry, poultry, eggs, seafood and grilled vegetables. It’s also used commonly for preserving.

#5 French Grey Salt - light grey color, the saltiest of the 5 salts I have sampled. French Grey Salt is formed as the sea water flows into the Guerande Marshes, in France, during high tides. The salt obtains its natural grey coloring from the salt crystallizing on clay. San Francisco Salt Company's French Grey Salt is 100% natural and carries the ‘Nature & Progr├Ęs’ certification label from France. It suits any culinary use. It is commonly used by French chefs... and who can argue with their results?

All San Francisco Salt Company salts are Kosher certified. Each of the salts is available in either coarse or fine grain. Each salt flavor came in a sealed sturdy plastic bags. The salts have a 10 year shelf live when they remained sealed in the original packaging. Once you open the package, each one has a zip lock closure so you can reseal the bag. These salts are top quality products.



Foind Hawaiian Black Lava Finishing Salt on Amazon


Find Sherpa Pink Gourmet salt on Amazon


Find Cherrywood Smoked Sea Salton Amazon


You can find Alaea Hawaiian Salt on Amazon by following this link
Find French Grey Sea Salt on Amazon



Ali Julia review ★★★★★