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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Product review: V7 32GB SDHC Class 4 Flash Memory Card (VASDH32GCL4R-1N)

This V7 SDHC class 4 SD memory card has 32 GB capacity. This capacity allows you to store 5416 photos each one is 12 MegaPixels or 250 minutes of 13 Mpbps HD video. The memory card has a 5 year limited warranty.

I measured the performance of the SDHC memory card with several utilities and found it to be pretty good. It falls in the mid range of various memory cards I have tested in the past, it is neither the slowest nor the fastest.

To test various memory cards I run the same set of tests so I can compare them to each in "apples to apples" comparison, this way if some unit does not perform well I notice it by comparing it to other devices I have tested. My test consist of copying a large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes.

V7 SDHC write performance:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ 1.178s (cpu) 2:01.43 (clock time)

For comparison I including numbers for copying the same set of files to SanDisk USB2 memory stick, Transcent microSDHC class 6 card, to hard disk of my computer,

✔ Transcent microSDHC : 1.482s (CPU time), 1:33.97 (clock time)
✔ SanDisk USB2: 1.358s (CPU time), 1:23.53 (clock time)
✔ Hard Drive: 0.573s (CPU time), 0:00.58 (clock time)

For read performance test I use Linux Disk Utility Benchmarks.

V7 SDHC Read-only performance:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ Minimum read rate 15.6 MB/s
✔ Maximum read rate 22.3 MB/s
✔ Average read rate 21.9 MB/s
✔ Average access time 0.8 ms

The only small negative I have to say that the packaging of the card does not include a plastic case which is included with some other cards. I like having a spare memory card when I travel and find these cases pretty handy.

I was supplied a sample for testing and an honest review, be it positive or negative.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book review: I'm on Facebook--Now What???: How to Get Personal, Business, and Professional Value from Facebook

The title of this book should have been "My business is on internet, now what?" The book concentrates on how to use facebook to promote and market a business. If you are an individual user who is not trying to market a product but rather wants to use facebook to keep in touch with friends and family this book is really not for you. If you have a business where you want to keep in touch with your customers, generate a following, advertise to the fan base then you are the target audience for this book. This book will give you a lot practical of advice and ideas on how to use facebook as platform for the promotion and marketing.

The authors talk about how to get the word out about the business, attract new fans, and create a following for a company. It talks about ads, promotions, give aways, sweeptakes as tools to increase Likes and company's fan base. The book spends quite a bit of time discussing when to post new posts. Turns out that the engagement of users are much higher on certain days and certain times. The books includes statistics and charts to illustrate this information. The authors discuss how to take advantage of these statistics by using an ability to schedule your posts at these high engagement times (rather than publish your posts immediately when you write them).

The book includes a description of various tools and web sites that help you track, measure, and manage social media. Using these tools will help you measure your facebook success.

There is a large section on purchasing and creating facebook ads. I did not realize how many different types of ads exit on facebook. The book describes how each one works and how much they cost.

The second edition of "I'm on facebook, now what?" addresses the most common complaint about the first edition of this book, published in 2008, that in the rapidly changing world of the internet the first edition was out of date. The new edition refers to changes and and new features up to 2012.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher with a request for an honest review (good or bad). This book helped me learn a side of facebook I have not thought of before, and I found the book interesting and practical. I particularly enjoyed the statistics about user engagement. This book will definitely give you new ideas on how to take advantage of marketing a business through facebook.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Contents

Foreword By Mari Smith
Introduction
Chapter 1
What's New Since The Last Edition
Growth
Product Changes

Chapter 2
Getting Started With Facebook
Setting Up A Facebook Page
Customizing Your Timeline
Posting
Getting The Word Out

Chapter 3
Creating Great Content
Developing Engaging Content
Map Back To Business Objectives
When To Post
How Often To Post
Creating A Content Calendar

Chapter 4
Social Media Management Tools

Chapter 5
Community Management
Who Should Manage
How To Be A Good Community Manager
Helpful Tools
Planning For Special Circumstances

Chapter 6
Advertising On Facebook
Facebook Ad Products
How To Do An Ad Buy

Chapter 7
Sweepstakes And Contests
Sweepstakes And Contests Examples
Promotion Applications

Chapter 8
Measuring Success
Tools
Creating A Reporting Dashboard

Chapter 9
Facebook Applications For Pages...
Social Media Applications
Email Applications
Other Popular Tools
Promotions
E-commerce
Original Tabs
Suites Of Applications
Create Your Own

Chapter 10
Facebook Plugins

Chapter 11
Frequently Asked Questions

Chapter 12
Additional Resources

Chapter 13
Conclusion And The Future Of Facebook
Marketing

Afterword

Monday, October 28, 2013

Product review: Bolse® AON4 10000mAh Multi-voltage External Battery



I tested Bolse® AON4 10000mAh External Battery Pack with Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4) and iPad Mini.

I received this power bank from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. One of the benefits of being requested 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. They can also help to do comparison shopping when selecting a power pack that works best your device.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit 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.

➨ Key finding:
======================
✔ I found that this power pack worked much better with my Samsung Galaxy tablet than it did with iPad Mini.
✔ If your laptop takes a large power plug (3/8") there is no tip to fit it.

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

Bolse® AON4 10000mAh external battery weighs 10.9 oz. Its size is 3" x 4.875" 0.875". It has two ports labelled Out S and Out I.

The external battery comes with 6 connector tips for laptops, and 10 connectors for mobile devices. Neither my iPad Mini nor Samsung Galaxy had a connector that fit and I use my own charging cords.
None of the laptop tips fit either of our two laptops, which require a larger diameter plug (3/8"). So I was not able to test how this external battery works with them. Note that I have tested other external battery packs aimed at laptops that did include the large tip, for example Intocircuit® Power Castle Intocircuit® Power Castle Series.

The package also includes a 7" coiled charging cable, which can be stretched up to 18 inches. The charging cable for laptops is 28 inches. The package also include AC wall charger which has a cord that measures 51 inches. AC adapter has both UL and EC seals (means it passed both US and European certification). It is rated for inputs 100-240V which means it could be used when you travel abroad.

It comes with a nice nylon carrying pouch, which fits the battery and tips. However it does not fit the AC adapter. It would be nice if everything could be kept together in one carrying bag.

The unit has a switch for 9V and 12V, this switch has no effect on charging tablets as the tablet regulates how much power it needs. I tested with the switch in both positions to verify and compare.

This power pack looks good - slick black package with pretty blue LEDs indicating the charge level of the external battery. I am attaching a photo of the Bolse pack during one of the test next to my tablet for size reference. You can find this photo by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo in this listing.

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

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet, switch on 12V
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out I ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
Out S ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet, switch on 9V
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out I ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
Out S ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet, switch on 12V
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out I ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
Out S ~~ AC ~~~~~ 0% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet, switch on 9V
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out I ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes
Out S ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 and iPad Mini at the same time, switch on 9V
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Out I ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)
Out S ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy 7.7)

➨ Key finding:
======================
✔ This power pack performed above average for Galaxy 7.7 Tablet and below average for iPadMini.
✔ If your laptop takes a large power plug (3/8") there is no tip to fit it.

My Samsung tablet is my workhorse tablet, so I rank this tablet 5 star for the Galaxy tablet on both ports. The iPadMini did not do as well on either of the ports. So if you are looking for a power battery pack for iPadMini and speed of charging is important to you you might want to look at Bolse® AON2 (ASIN B00CXAD9WG), which showed 5%-6% charge for iPadMini in a 10 minutes test.

Ali Julia review This power pack performed above average for Galaxy 7.7 Tablet and below average for iPadMini.

My Samsung tablet is my workhorse tablet, so I rank this tablet 5 star for the Galaxy tablet on both ports. The iPadMini did not do as well on either of the ports. I am docking 1 star for iPadMini performance and lack of a large laptop tip. If you are looking for a power battery pack for iPadMini and speed of charging is important to you might want to look at Bolse® AON2 (ASIN B00D8LOAEA), which showed 5%-6% charge for iPadMini in a 10 minutes test.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Product review: Bolse® AON3 11200mAh External Battery Pack for Cellphones and Tablets

video


I tested Bolse® AON3 11200mAh External Battery Pack with Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4) iPad Mini, Pyle 9" Tablet (ICS 4.0.4) and SanDisk Sansa Clip+ player.

I received this power bank from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. One of the benefits of being requested 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. They can also help to do comparison shopping when selecting a power pack that works best with your device.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charged 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.

➨ Key finding:
======================
✔ I found that this power pack worked much better with my Samsung Galaxy tablet than it did with iPad Mini.
✔ Be very careful when peeling the protective plastic cover, it peeled off the lettering on the face of the power pack (see attached photo)

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

Bolse® AON3 11200mAh external battery weighs 8.8 oz. Its size is 6.75" x 3" 0.75". It has two ports labelled out1 (5V/1A) and out2 (5V/2.1A).
It has a built in LED light. To turn it on you need to press on/off button twice in quickly. The light is not super bright, but could be handy in an emergency. It comes with a really nice nylon carrying pouch.

The external battery comes with 5 connector tips. Neither my iPad Mini nor Samsung Galaxy had a connector that fit and I had to provide my own. Pyle tablet takes a standard micro USB which was included in the set. The package also includes a 19" charging cable.

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

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 5% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 and iPad Mini at the same time
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)
2A port ~~ AC ~~~~~ 4% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy 7.7)

✔ Pyle 7.7 tablet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A port ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ SanDisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 Player
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port ~~ worked
2A port ~~ worked

➨ Key finding:
======================

✔ This power pack performed above average for Galaxy 7.7 Tablet and below average for iPadMini. It performed average for Pyle tablet.

✔ The plastic covering that was supposed to protect the power pack caused damage to the finish. When I removed it some of the white lettering transferred to the plastic leaving the power pack with lettering and on/off button partially rubbed off.

Galaxy 7.7 is my work horse tablet, I give this power pack 5 stars for how well it did with the Galaxy Tab. I am docking 1 star for iPadMini performance and the plastic packaging that was not tested not to cause cosmetic defects.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Product review: XBOOM Ceramic Mini Portable Capsule Speaker

video

XBOOM CERAMIC Mini speaker is 3.5" tall when extended, and can be collapsed into a 2" ball when not in use. It weighs in at 3.5 oz. Its small size makes a perfect companion.

I am attaching a video which has several short snippets of music to demonstrate the speaker's sound. As one of the top reviewers I get asked to test and review a fairly large number of speakers. This allows me to compare a large number of speakers to each other. To help me make this comparison I always use the same two pieces of music, so I can compare speakers using "apples-to-apples" comparison. As a stress test for the bass I use Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. The second piece of music (Tchaikovsky) does not have a lot bass and allows me to test the mid-range. XBOOM CERAMIC speaker did well on the mid-tone test, it did break up a bit in a bass range, but it did better than a number of other small speaker which could not handle Toccata's bass at all.

In the video I switch between the tablet's built-in speaker and XBOOM CERAMIC speaker so you can compare the sound. You can hear that the speaker produce the sound that is richer, fuller, and louder sound the the built-in speaker.

The speaker comes with split cable - one part of it is a charging cable (6.5 inches long) the other part is an audio cable (23.5 inches). The charging cable is quite short, but it does not have to be attached when the speaker is playing. This speaker can be daisy changed to another speaker, it has a built in audio cable to connect multiple speakers to each other.

The package also includes is a cloth pouch we can be used the keep the speaker in its cable together so they don't get separated.

I received XBOOM speaker and XBOOM CERAMIC speaker from the manufacture for testing. I found that the XBOOM speaker performed somewhat better than XBOOM CERAMIC speaker at the bass range. I am posting reviews for both of these speakers so you can compare the audio clips I posted if you are trying to decide between these two speakers. I hope the video will give you a good idea of what to expect.

Based on other speakers of similar size/price I rated this speaker as good (4 stars). The XBOOM CERAMIC speaker performed well with music without strong base as well as when I listened to spoken human voice (e.g. news), bass did not sound as well but not too terrible.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Product review: Soiree Tempour Bottle Pourer

video

Tempour is an elegant system for serving, chilling and aerating fine wine. It can be used instead of ice buckets for practical purposes or just because it looks cool (no pun intended).

Tempour is made out stainless steel and silicon. It has several components that come apart for cleaning. The package includes a small brush that can be used to clean the narrow parts of the unit. The pourer component is 2.75", the stopper 1.375", the filter/aerator component is 3", and the chiller is 7". The chiller is filled with gel which keeps the chiller cool. Total length of the unit is 12 inches, below the cork line is 10 inches. The chiller portion is detachable and the pourer/aerator can be used without it. Tempour weighs 9.2 oz. I am including a photo of everything included in the package, it can be found by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

The first time I tried the chiller I did not think of how much volume it will displace... and as captured on my embarrassing video spilled the wine. As they say "Do not try this at home". Remember not to use the chiller on a full bottle of wine. My second attempt was more graceful.

I received Tempour from the manufacture with a request for an honest review (good or bad) to share how it works for me. Whether you want to impress your guests or looking for a unique gift for a wine connoisseur Tempour will do a nice job.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Product review: DinoTwin T1 Premium Sport Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headphones

I have been wearing these headphones for over a week while gardening and working out while listening to my mp3 player. The headphones have both things I like about them and things I do not like about them. I found that the quality of sound is quite good. I love not having a cord that gets tangled. However the ear pieces are fairly large and the fact that they stick out of my ears so much makes them slip out occasionally either because I catch them on something or from sweat. The bluetooth range is limited (the sound starts breaking up), however in my use of having MP3 in my shirt pocket they work ok. The overall rating of this headset for me is OK - not bad, but I encountered some issues.

DETAILED OBSERVATIONS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. The headset has a good sound, I tried different music and it performed well at different ranges, including Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is a stress test for the bass that I use to test different speakers. Some speakers crackle and can't handle it, but this headset handled it very well.

2. The ear pieces are fairly large, they are 1 3/8" from the tip to the cord, 1" outside the ear. The size is large because they house the battery as well as the audio components. I find they stick out of my ears quite a bit, occasionally catches on thing and slip out. They would not work well with a winter hat on. I find them to be less comfortable than the small ear pieces of my other bluetooth headset (Kinivo).

3. The headset has a flat soft cord that lays on your shoulder. See photo I am attaching as the image might explain this better than words, see photo #2.
The flat cord does not twist or tangle, I like it. However its length catches on my collar and earrings. I have another bluetooth wireless headset which has a rigid headband that I like better because it is shorter and does not catch on anything.

4. Controls are located on the cord, you have to locate them by touch when you are wearing the headset. (see photo #3 which shows close-up of the control)

5. The LED light is fairly small and it is hard to see especially in the bright light (see photo #5)

6. The earphones come with three three sets of ear tips for small, medium and larger ears. I switched the the small tips so I can insert them deeper in my ear canal. (Photo #1 shows all inserts and tabs that come with this headset)

7. The volume of the headset can be made quite loud. The volume at its highest setting is uncomfortably loud for me, so they go pretty high.

8. The range is advertised as 33 feet, but I get some break up at that distance. On the other hand I use these headphone with the device in my shirt pocket, so the distance has not been an issue other than when I tested the range.

CAPABILITIES
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1. Low battery indicator (five dong tones every 5 minutes)
2. To do a factory reset (this deletes pairing list): hold volume up ("+") button until red and blue LEDs flash at the same time and you hear 4 dong tones

DinoTwin bluetooth headset supports supports the following profiles
Headset profile (HSP)
Hands-free profile (HFP)
Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
Audio/Video Remote Control Profile (AVRCP)

You an use this bluetooth headset with devices that support one of these profiles.
For cellphone or pda that support HSP this headset can
1. answer, end, or reject calls.
2. redial last number
3. voice dial
4. adjust volume
5. transfer between headset and phone
6. mute/cancel mute (Mute mode is indicated by two tones every 10 seconds)

For cellphone or pda that support A2DP this headset can
1. listen to wireless audio
2. adjust volume
3. remotely control pause and play
4. remotely control next/previous track

CHARGING
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The headset comes with a special charging clip which clips to the headset to charge it. It takes 2 hours to fully charge the headset, and it can be used for 4 hours to listen to music or talk on the phone on a single charge. It has 150 hours of standby time. The charging clip is unique to this headset, if it breaks or if you loose it it is bad news. I would have been happier with a standard micro USB charger.

There is a small light on the back of the ear piece that indicates the status of the battery.
Red light on- charging
Red light off - charged

BLUETOOTH
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. Keep you device close to the headset
2. Put headset into pairing mode by pressing the multifunction button for 8 seconds. The headset stays in the pairing mode for 2 minutes. When it is in pairing mode the LED status indicator will flash red and blue alternately.
3. Enable Bluetooth on your device and scan for near by bluetooth devices.
4. T1 will appear as a device name. If your device supports Bluetooth 2.1 password is not needed, otherwise enter "0000"
5. When the headset successfully connect BLUE LED on the headset will flash twice every 4 seconds (Note that if the light flashes once every 2 seconds it indicates that there is no connected device)

I received this headset from the manufacture with a request for an honest review, be it positive or negative. This review includes the positives and negatives of my experience with this bluetooth headset. The highlight for me was the sound quality, the weakest point how they fit my ears.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Friday, October 18, 2013

Product review: Garden Suncast Edging


This product has a fatal flaw if you are not planning to make a complete square out of the blocks: one one end of each unit has a plastic connector with hole which is designed to connect it to the next unit. I needed to put a border in sections mixed with cape cod railing and real stones. It would have been better if the units were discrete and did not have this ugly looking connectors so you can put the border in small sections if needed. I am attaching several images to illustrate how this edging looks in my garden.

Even if all pieces are connected this borderstone is not a good simulation of a stone border. It looks plastic even from a fairly long distance. In my configuration with connection holes visible it looks even worse.

On the positive side installing Suncast edging was easier than I expected. One of the photos include a photo of the mallet I used to pound the edging in. It went in fairly easily even into grassy area, and none of the pieces cracked or got damaged in the process.

My recommendation is to get this edging only if you plan on making a complete square with the border so there are no tell-tell ends and in some place where you don't mind that it looks plastic.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Product review: Magster Magnetic Drop Ceiling Display Hardware

video
The Magster system was designed to install and hold props and decorations for rooms with drop ceilings. The system consists of hooks and loops that can hold light weight props and a positioning pole which allows to install the hooks without having to climb the ladder. The hanging part has either a hook or a loop at one end and a magnet at another. The magnets attach to any metal surface, including the metal grid that holds up a typical drop ceiling. A position pole makes it possible to stick the magnets to the ceiling without having to climb on a ladder or a desk.

I am attaching a video where the Magster system is used to install a banner at a friend's office with drop ceilings. You can see the flag being installed and then moved to another location. The minimum height requirement for a person to reach the ceiling to install the hooks without a step stool is 5'7". I am 5'2" and could not reach the ceiling. A friend who is 5'8" could reach it without problems, a buddy at 5'7" could reach the ceiling when he stood on his tippy toes.

I found many uses for the Magster hooks in addition to the drop ceiling. I found the hooks to be especially useful, I was able to attach them to metal shelves for holding cords, bags, and other light items. I also found a way to use them to hold the backdrop cloth when I take photos.

I am attaching a collage of 7 photos to illustrate my review.
✔ 5 photos labelled 1A through 1E show the banner being being attached to the ceiling.
✔ The second photo shows the hooks and loops attached to the hanging bracket.
✔ The third shows a hook, a loops, and a swivel.
✔ The fourth shows a close up of the disassembled pole, two connectors, and the hanger arm of the pole.

I received Magster system from the manufacture to test and share my experiences with potential buyers. The system was fairly easy to use as long as you 5'7" or taller. I hope the video helps you see what to expect.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Monday, October 14, 2013

Product review: Asus Mini Bluetooth Dongle (USB-BT211)

I was looking for a Bluetooth dongle for my Linux machines and thanks to other reviewers I knew people got Asus dongle to work on Linux systems even though officially is is described as Bluetooth dongle for Windows (and comes with Windows drivers).

I want to confirm that I also got my Linux systems to recognize the dongle. All I had to do is insert the dongle, reboot the system, and then enable Bluetooth from System/Preferences. It worked with the native drivers that came with Fedora 14 which is fairly old, as well as with Fedora 19, which is the latest version as of now. I am able to stream music and use other bluetooth devices.

Note: Asus occasionally offers $5 rebates on these dongles, I noticed that Amazon rebate offer expired, but NewEgg still had a valid one, so that's where I got mine as the base price was the same.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Product review: Kinivo BTH360S Bluetooth Stereo Headphone

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ The headset produces good sound, I tried different music and it performed well at different ranges, including Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is a stress test for the bass that I use to test different speakers. Some speakers crackle and can't handle it, but this headset handled it very well.
✔ The headset has a rigid head band. At first I thought it was too small for my head, but then realized that it needs to be position in the back almost around the neck. See photo #2 and #3 as it is easier to see than explain in words.
✔ Because the headband is rigid it does not catch on anything (shirt collar, ears, earing). I have another bluetooth wireless headset which has a soft longer cord that rests on my shoulders in the back, and I like this headband better.
✔ Controls are located on the headband, you have to locate them by touch when you are wearing the headset.
✔ The LED light is very small an narrow, it is hard to see especially in the bright light
✔ The ear pieces are fairly small, they are 1" from the tip to headband, 6/8" are outside the ear. The battery is located in the headband not in the earpiece. I find them very comfortable even for my small ears. I like them better than the other bluetooth headset I own, which houses the battery inside of the earpiece which make the earpiece a bit larger and heavier, and thus more proned to popping out.
✔ The earphones come with three three sets of ear tips for small, medium and large ears. I left them with the medium tips which are installed when the headset arrives.
✔ The volume of the headset can me made quite loud. The volume at highest setting is uncomfortably loud for me, so they go pretty high.

CAPABILITIES
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ The range between the headset and the mobile device should be 10 meters (33 feet) or less. When I get outside that range the reception breaks up.
✔ Low battery indicator (red LED flashes twice every 30 seconds, three dong tones every 30 seconds)
✔ To do a factory reset (this deletes pairing list): hold multi-function key and volume up ("+") button at the same time for 8 seconds. Red and blue LEDs will flash at the same time briefly when the operation is completed.

You an use this bluetooth headset with devices that support one of the profiles that Kinivo headset supports. Kinivo bluetooth headset supports the following profiles:
Headset profile (HSP)
Adanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)
Audio/Video Rempte Control Profile (AVRCP)

For devices that support HSP this headset can
✔ answer, end, or reject calls.
✔ redial last number
✔ voice dial
✔ adjust volume
✔ transfer between headset and phone
✔ mute/cancel mute (Mute mode is indicated by two tones every 10 seconds)

For devices that support A2DP this headset can
✔ listen to wireless audio
✔ adjust volume
✔ remotely control pause and play
✔ remotely control next/previous track

CHARGING
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The headset comes with a special charging clip which clips to the headset to charge it (see photo #1). It takes 3 hours to fully charge the headset, and it can be used for 6 hours to listen to music or talk on the phone on a single charge. It has 150 hours of standby time.
There is a small light on the back of the ear piece that indicates the status of the battery (see photo #4). When the red light is on the headset is charging, when it is done charging the read light turns off.

BLUETOOTH
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ Keep your device close to the headset
✔ Put headset into pairing mode by pressing the multifunction button for 6-7 seconds. When it is in pairing mode the LED status indicator will flash red and blue alternately. The headset stays in the pairing mode for 2 minutes.
✔ Enable Bluetooth on your device and scan for near by bluetooth devices.
✔ Kinivo BTH360-S will appear as a device name. If your device supports Bluetooth 2.1 password is not needed, otherwise enter "0000"
✔ When the headset successfully connects blue LED on the headset will flash twice every 4 seconds (Note that if the light flashes once every 2 seconds it indicates that there is no connected device)
✔ Every time the headset is turned on it will connect to the last connected device automatically

I received this headset from the manufacture with a request for an honest review, be it positive or negative. This review includes the positives and negatives of my experience with this bluetooth headset. The highlights for me were the sound quality and how comfortably they fit my ears.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Product review: Bolse® AON2 8000mAh Compact Size External Battery

I tested Bolse 2 port AON2 External Battery with Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet (ICS 4.0.4), iPad Mini, Pyle 9" Tablet (ICS 4.0.4) and SanDisk Sansa Clip+ player.

I received this power bank from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. One of the benefits of being requested 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.

The manufacture offers the identical 8000 mAh external batteries in black and white colors and send me both for evaluation. Other than colors they are identical and testing both allows me to test how consistent each unit performs relative to each other.

My methodology is to charge each mobile device on each port of the unit for 10 minutes and measuring how much each unit was charged 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.

➨ Key finding:
======================
I found some inconsistency between the two unit, especially with the respect to Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet.

I am attaching a photo that shows both power brick during a test to illustrate this review. This photo can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo in this listing.

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

Bolse 8000 mAh external battery weighs 6.4 oz. Its size is 4" x 3.75" x 0.75" (slightly larger than a deck of cards). It has two ports labelled out1 (5V/1A) and out2 (5V/2A). It has a built in LED light. It is not super bright, but could be handy in an emergency. It comes with a really nice nylon carrying pouch.

The external battery comes with 8 connectors. Neither my iPad Mini nor Samsung Galaxy had a connector that fit and I had to provide my own. Pyle tablet takes a standard micro USB which was included in the set. The package also include a 17" charging cable.

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

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet (black external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 3% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet (white external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ discharging ~~~~~ 0% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet (black external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 6% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 4% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ iPad Mini tablet (white external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 5% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 4% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 and iPad Mini at the same time (black external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 5% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 2% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy 7.7)

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 and iPad Mini at the same time (white external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes (iPad Mini)
OUT 2 ~~ AC ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes (Galaxy 7.7)

✔ Pyle tablet (black external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Pyle tablet (white external battery)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes
OUT 2 ~~ USB ~~~~~ 1% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ SanDisk Sansa Clip+ MP3 Player
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OUT 1 ~~ worked
OUT 2 ~~ worked

➨ Key finding:
======================

The chargers performed well compared to other chargers are tested with these tests.

However there was a difference in performance between the black and the white battery in particular with respect to the Samsung Galaxy tablet, which worked well on both ports of the black unit but only one port of the white unit. The black charger also did better when two tablets were charged at the same time. This seem to point out that there inconsistencies in manufacturing that were not caught by quality control.

If both chargers performed as well as the black external power I would have rated them as a 5 star. Since inconsistency in the manufacturing process may appear in a battery of either color I am rating them both as a 4 star.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Product review: V7 USB 3.0 Flash Drive

This V7 thumb flash drive has 8 GB capacity. It has a retractable USB plug controlled by a slide on the side of the stick (I am attaching a photo which can be located by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo). When the plug is retracted its size is 2.0"L x 0.8"W x 0.35"H. I like USB drive with retractable plug design for carrying around in my purse. According to the specification this memory stick has 10 year data retention and 5 year warranty. The memory stick is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Linux Kernel 2.4, and Mac IS 9.0.

I measured the performance of V7 flash stick with several utilities and found it to be pretty good. It falls in the mid range of various USB memory sticks I have tested in the past, it is neither the slowest nor the fastest.

To test various USB devices I run the same set of tests so I can compare devices to each other in "apples to apples" comparison, this way if some unit does not perform well I notice it by comparing it to other devices I have tested. My "write" test consist of copying a large set of mp3 files totalling 638916 Megabytes.

V7 Flash Drive write performance:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ 1.535s (cpu) 1:08.45 (clock time)

For comparison I including numbers for copying the same set of files to SanDisk USB2 memory stick, Transcent microSDHC class 6 card, to hard disk of my computer,

✔ SanDisk USB2: 1.358s (CPU time), 1:23.53 (clock time)
✔ Hard Drive: 0.573s (CPU time), 0:00.58 (clock time)
✔ Transcent microSDHC : 1.482s (CPU time), 1:33.97 (clock time)

For read performance test I use Linux Disk Utility Benchmarks.

V7 Flash Drive Read-only performance:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
✔ Minimum read rate 34.7 MB/s
✔ Maximum read rate 40.2 MB/s
✔ Average read rate 39.7 MB/s
✔ Average access time 0.9 ms

The only small negative I have to say about this memory stick is that it does not have a LED indicator which shows that the memory stick is being accessed. If I am using multiple memory sticks I like to see the reassuring flashing of the stick I am writing to so I can be sure I am accessing the right stick.

I was supplied a sample for testing and an honest review, be it positive or negative.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Product review: Tea Tree Oil Shampoo for Dandruff

Tea Tree Shampoo is aimed at people with mild to moderate dandruff and scalp blemishes. The shampoo has a pleasant forresty scent. It will work well for men and women as the scent is pleasant, but not flowery.

You should be aware that this is low suds shampoo. It generates very little lather when I wash my hair. This lack of lather is the only thing I do not like about this shampoo as I like lots of suds when I wash my hair. On the positive side I like the scent, and after using it for over a week it appears to keep my light dandruff under control.

Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree. The tea tree was named by eighteenth century sailors, who made tea that smelled like nutmeg from the leaves of the tree growing on the southeast Australian coast. The tea tree is not related to the tea plant that is used to make black and green teas.

Tea tree oil is has many medicinal uses, it is applied to the skin for infections such as acne, fungal infections of the nail, lice, scabies, athlete's foot (tinea pedis), and ringworm. It is also used topically as a local antiseptic for cuts, abrasions, burns,and insect bites. In the shampoo it clears out dead skin cells and combats dandruff (it can also be used for lice). Rosemary oil is also included in the shampoo regulates oil secretions. Lavender Oil heals blemishes on the scalp. You can find a complete list of ingridients below.

Instructions for use:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shake before use. Rinse hair, massage quarter-sized amount into the scalp, allow to stay on the hair for 2-3 minutes (2-3) before rinsing. Repeat and follow with 3 final rinses.
The bottle contains 8oz (236ml). This shampoo is made in the U.S.A. It is allergenic and BPA free.

COMPLETE LIST OF INGREDIENTS:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Water, Cocamide DEA, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Chloride, DMDM Hydantoin, Citric Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Organic Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Botafl Keratin, Organic Lavandula Angustifolia Lavender) Oil, Organic Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Oil.

I received a bottle of Tea Tree Shampoo for evaluation and sharing my experiences with potential buyers. Overall, I thought the shampoo was effective keeping dandruff flakes under control, but I wish it generated a more satisfying lather.

I am attaching a photo of the shampoo bottle, it seems that the formula has been changed since the stock photo was taken because the stock photo shows the shampoo as clear, my shampoo is light yellow in color.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, October 4, 2013

Product review: Metrokane Houdini Wine Preserver

We are not big drinkers and tend not to finish a bottle of wine in one sitting. To keep the wine longer we have gone through a few wine preservers which pump the air out of the bottle to slow down oxidation and keep the flavor the same longer.

Houdini wine preserver is the latest wine preservation system I have tried. It worked fine on several bottles of wine but not all. I found that on one of the bottles I could not make a good enough seal. The pumps is working as I can feel it sucking out air when I try it against my hand, so I think in some cases the stopper might be a tiny bit too small for a good seal. The bottle that did not work was a bottle of plum wine, perhaps its shape is somewhat different.

I am attaching a photo collage with a close-ups of the stopped and the pump on the bottle. You can locate the photos by following 'customer photos' link under the main photo.

The top of the stopper has a small valve (see photo #1). If you push it to one side it lets the air back into the bottle and the stopper comes out easily. You can hear the a slight hiss giving a nice feeling that the system is working.

I received Houdini wine preserver from the manufacture with a request for honest review, be it positive or negative. I have been using Houdini wine preserver for 2 weeks, so far the only problem I ran into was the Plum Wine bottle.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Product review: Grace Digital GDI-EGRX601 ECOXGEAR - ECOROX Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker


video

I am very impressed with ECOROX Bluetooth Speaker. In my video I included two small snippets of music to illustrate my review of this speaker. I used several pieces of music to test this speaker, including Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor which is a stress test for the bass. Some speakers crackle and can't handle the bass, but Grace Digital GDI-EGRX601 ECOXGEAR Speaker handles it extremely well. As one of the top reviewers I get asked to test and review a fairly large number of speakers, as a result I am able to do a relative comparison between a large number of speakers using the same pieces of music to test them. Based on these comparisons I can say that the sound of this speaker is one of the best small speakers I have tested in the last year (top two among the speakers I tested, along with Kinivo speaker).

In the video I start with the music playing through the built-in speakers of the tablet, then turn on blue tooth and then the sound switches to the speakers. You can see how much richer, fuller, and louder the sound is when the speakers are used. There is no cracking and sound distortion even in the most challenging parts of the Bach Toccata.

The speaker is 5.5"L x 3.5"W x 2.5"H. Its weight is 10.6 oz.

The bottom of the speaker has a screw type mounting hardware (purchased separately) Grace Digital GDI-EGSCM Suction Cup Mount. I used the Suction Cup Mount to mount this speaker in my shower and it holds it very well giving me fantastic acoustics in the shower. The speaker can also be mounted on a bike using Grace Digital GDI-EGCBM Handle Bar Mount purchased separately.

I received this speaker from the manufacture for an honest review be it positive or negative. I am very impressed with this speaker, especially how it handled the bass! I hope the video gives you a good idea of what to expect.

I am several photos that show the speaker, including how it is mounted using the suction cup mount. These photos 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 ★★★★★