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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Product review: Bolkin S-100 2600mah Portable USB Power Bank External Battery Charger Pack

video

This is small size battery (4" x 1" x 0.875") with one port. It weighs 2.5 oz. The package includes a charging cable with 4 tips (mini USB, micro USB, Apple connector, and a round connector I don't recognize). I find this size battery very handy to have in my purse for emergency power when my phone runs out of juice. The battery is rated as 2600mAh. Since some power during charging is lost to inefficiencies (such as heat) it will provide approximately 2210 mAh.

I tested Bokin 2600 mAh with Samsung Nexus phone and iPad Mini tablet. For those who are interested in the bottom line this battery pack worked consistently with both devices, charging both device at a slightly below average speed I have seen for chargers with this capacity.

I run the same set on tests on each battery pack I own, so I can compare them to each other using "apples to apples" comparison. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased comparisons between different external batteries. I am including the details of the tests below for those who want to see the nitty gritty.

★ To prolong battery life
==================================

Li-ion batteries do not need to be fully charged nor is it desirable to do so. In fact, it is better not to fully charge, because high voltages stresses the battery. Li-ion should never be discharged too low. This is why battery manufacturers typically ship batteries with a 40 percent charge. The low charge state reduces aging-related stress while allowing some self-discharge during storage. If you plan to store the battery without using it apply a partial charge before a long storage period.

★ How I tested this battery pack
==================================

I use a USB current monitor and a charging test to test each port. The current monitor shows the voltage and the current flowing between the battery and the device.

The current varies based on what the device requires and what battery provides. This communication happens using different protocols depending on OS. Starting with Android 4.21 Google adapted the Android protocols to get better performance from ports aimed at Apple devices. An addition variable for Android devices is whether a data cable or charging cable is used to charge the device. The charging cables short the two data connections together (rendering them useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection, and thus accept the higher current of the charging source.

The 10 minutes test consists of charging each mobile device on each port of the battery pack for 10 minutes and measure how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Since the charging speed is non-linear I start charging each device from approximately the same charge level. 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.

★ Test Results:
======================

✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
AC charging rate ----- 3% change in charge in 10 minutes
current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.85A and 5.02V

✔ iPad Mini Tablet
--------------------------
AC charging rate ----- 2% change in charge in 10 minutes
current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.92A and 5.05V

★ Summary
------------------
This is a nice battery to have on a go. Although not the speediest it perform reasonably well for its size.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, March 28, 2014

Product review: The Bulldog Hardware 131595 Mesh Basket

video

The most significant thing about these baskets is that they did not fit a regular peg board (1/8" holes) without modifications. I had to enlarge the peg board holes with a drill bit in order to allow the baskets to hang flush with wall. In my video I included a shot of how the baskets hang without enlarging the peg board holes, they cannot be straightened out. Without modifying the pegboard they were not usable. Unfortunately these modifications mean that other peg board hooks and loops are not going to work in the enlarge holes and the baskets cannot be moved without destroying more holes.

The baskets themselves are nice. The mesh is very fine and holds even small items. However the hooks on all baskets were a total mess. Besides being too thick most of them were bent in various ways. They were angled at different angles to each other and in a wrong angle for the pegboard and could not be used as they came. I had to straighten and adjust the angle of each individual hook. I have a lot of peg boards baskets and hooks, I have never had to do this for any other product.

Measurements
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Small basket: 6.25"L x 3.25"W x 2.25"D
Medium basket: 7.9"L x 4"W x 3.1"D
Large basket: 12"L x 6"W x 4"D

I like being able to re-arrange the pegboard. The fact that these baskets are now married to specific holes is very disappointing. But the baskets themselves are nice.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Product review: Mpow® 4 Port Portable USB 3.0 Hub with a 3.3ft Cable

video

I never have enough open slots on my power strip. What I like about Mpow 4 port charger is that it comes with a 39 inch cord and a regular sized plug. I was able to replace two dual chargers that took up three slots on my power strip with one regular size plug which is connected to this 4 port USB charger. This unit does not have mounting holes to hang on the wall, it is mean to be placed on the floor or table.

This is a very compact hub, its size is 2.275"L x 3"W x 1.25"H. It weights 5.3 oz.

I run the same set on tests on each charger I review so I can compared their performance. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased results based on test results. I tested each port, and each port performed well. The speed of charging was better than average.

For those who interested in the details of the tests I included them below, for those interested in a quick summary this hub performed well in my test on all 4 ports.

➨ How I tested this charging station:
======================

I have been testing chargers for a long time, and people often ask me why results differ so much from charger to charger and often port to port. The results are different because they are affected by a number of factors. To help with a numerical explanation of the differences I began using a USB current monitor which shows the voltage and the current flowing between the battery and the device.

The amount of energy transferred from the charger to the device is calculated by multiplying voltage and current. Most of the chargers are 5V devices and most devices show the voltage very close to 5V. The interesting number is the current as it varies from unit to unit and from port to port.

The current varies based on what the device requires and what battery provides. This communication happens using different protocols depending on OS. Newer Android OS versions have adapted their protocols to get better performance from ports aimed at Apple devices. An addition variable that effects performance is whether a data cable or charging cable is used to charge the device. The charging cables short the two data connections together (rendering them useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection, and thus accept the higher current of the charging source.

The 10 minutes test consists of charging each mobile device on each port of the battery pack for 10 minutes and measure how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Since the charging speed is non-linear I start charging each device from approximately the same charge level. 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.

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

✔ Samsung Nexus Phone
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Port 1: 10 minute test: ~~~~~~ AC rate ~~~ 6% in 10 minutes
Port 1: current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.83A, 4.98V

Port 2: 10 minute test: ~~~~~~ AC rate ~~~ 6% in 10 minutes
Port 2: current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.84A, 5.00V

Port 3: 10 minute test: ~~~~~~ AC rate ~~~ 6% in 10 minutes
Port 3: current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.83.04A, 4.99V

Port 4: 10 minute test: ~~~~~~ AC rate ~~~ 6% in 10 minutes
Port 4: current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.83A, 5.00V

I really like this hub. It charges quickly, the hub is very compact, and I like that it takes up just one slot on my power strip.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, March 24, 2014

Product review: Belkin 12 Outlet Home Surge Protector Extended Cord 4156 Joules

video

I purchased a 10 feet 12 outlet version of the Belkin extended cord. This is a well designed and well spaced out power center. My video shows how several large power bricks and chargers fit on the power strip. For example two Eneloop chargers do not fit next to each other, but if they are plugged in the ends there is enough room left to plug in a medium size plug between them. I was able to replace two power strips with zero room to expand with one Belkin strip and I still have plenty of room to expand.

⬤ Size:
~~~~~~
The power strip is 4" wide, 12.5" long and 1" thick. The power cord is 10 feet (3 meters). The surger protector provide 4156 joules in surge protection.

⬤ Extra features:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The strip has detachable clip to keep cords tidy.

In my video I show the top and the bottom of the strip. You can see that the back of the surge protector has two mounting holes for hanging the strip on the wall.

The on/off switch is on the side, next to the cord.

This surge protector has sliding safety covers. Closing the covers on the outlets that are not in use will minimize dust and debris getting into the outlets.

⬤ Light indicators:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
* The "Protected" green light should be on when the power switch is turned on. If this light goes out at any time, it means that your Surge Protector was sacrificed to protect your equipment and the strip should be replaced.
* The "Not Grounded" red light should not be on. If this light turns on, you may have a ground wiring problem. In my video you can see my using the the protector in an strip without a ground wire and the light is on, then you can see the strip plugged into an outlet with a proper ground and the light is off.

⬤ Warranty:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Connecting a Belkin Surge Protector to an improperly grounded outlet will void all Belkin warranties. If your home is properly grounded and the Surge Protector's "Not Grounded" red indicator light is on Belkin will replace the surge protector at no cost.

I am very pleased with surge protector, it takes up a lot less space than the two power strips it replaced and I have a lot of free outlets left for further expansion.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Product review: Pro-Line Helping Hands Soldering Station with Illuminated Magnifier & 15 Watt Soldering Iron

video

Have you wished to have another hand while working on the project? Pro-line helping hands soldering station gives you two extra hands! This soldering station has a pair of strong alligator clips that can be used to hold items while you are soldering, glueing, or working on any project. The stand is stable and the metal "hands" that can hold items as small as jewellery and as large as a circuit board. The built-in 2x magnifying lens is position right, and the ring of 10 LED lights casts a nice bright light exactly where you need it.

The heavy steel base is 8" x 6.5" in size with slip-resistant feet for stability. Flexible arms are 5" apart and end with alligator clips that can hold a variety of objects securely in place. The loops is 5.5" inches across and 10 LED lights are mounted in a circle around it. The goose neck that holds the loops and the lights is 8" long. The neck is very flexible and stays in the position you put it.

Soldering iron stand, solder spool holder, brass mesh tip cleaner and cleaning sponge are attached to the base. The unit runs either from AC power (AC cord and adapter are included) or on 4 "AA" batteries (which are not included).

The soldering iron has an ergonomically shaped handle which is 6.5" long. It stays cool while you use it, and its texture is grippy. The package includes a 2" x 2" safety stand. The soldering iron has ceramic heating element and heats up quickly. Maximum temperature is 824°F (440°C). The tip is iron-clad chrome-plated and replaceable. The soldering iron has a 8-foot power cord.

In attached video you see my husband working on the banana plugs for audio cables. He thought the alligator clips worked great, the light was sufficient, the magnifying glass was helpful. After completing the project he gave both the soldering station and the soldering iron 5 stars.

I received a sample station and soldering iron with a request for an honest review. Getting a sample does not influence what I say, the review is purely based on how the product worked. My husband is very happy with the soldering iron and the soldering station.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Product review: OXA Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard

video


This bluetooth keyboard has some features I liked and some features that I did not.

On the positive side:
✅ I liked the size and the feel of the keyboard. It is 9" wide and 5.5" front to back. It weighs 7.8 oz.
✅ The balance between the comfortable key size and the compact size of the keyboard is good. Each is 3/8" square, made out of hard plastic with a nice matt finish.
✅ It has a rechargeable battery, which uses a standard micro USB cable.
✅ It has an on/off switch so you can turn it off when not in use.
✅ Most keys are in the standard layout. Function keys work by holding down fn key and a numeric key at the same time.

On the negative side:
❌ The biggest negative for me is the location of the space bar. It is located next a lip which is slightly higher in height than the space bar. This lip is located right at the front edge of the keyboard in front of the space bar and when I use my thumb to hit the space bar as I do during regular typing I hit the lip instead. In order to use the space bar I need to change how I type which slowed me down.
❌ I am fairly light on the keys, I don't hit them with force, and occasionally my regular keystrokes did not register on this keyboard. It requires a stronger touch.
❌ The keyboard tablet stand only works when the tablet in a landscape orientation. If you insert the table in a portrait orientation it tilts backwards and cannot be used (see video). If you need the tablet to be in a portrait orientation while you type you would need to use another stand.

The balance of positive and negative works out to a general okay rating: it works but not ideal.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Product review: OXA Bluetooth Wireless 3.0 Keyboard with Aluminum Alloy Holder

video

I have tried several bluetooth keyboards over the last year and this one is among my favorites.

✔ For me it achieves a perfect balance between size and comfort.
✔ Keystroke response is excellent, there is no delay, keys have the right sensitivity for my key strokes, no key strokes were lost as I typed
✔ The keys feel good and have a nice feedback. The accuracy of my typing is good using it.

OXA keyboard has a solid feel to it. It weighs 14.7 oz. It is 9.75" wide, 7.5" front to back, it is 0.25" thick. Each key is a tad over 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 at all. The individual keys of the keyboard are made out of hard plastic. The base of the keyboard is made out of aluminium. The keyboard has very nice feedback, I felt confident that I was making good contact.

The only thing it is lacking that I liked in another keyboard is keyboard back light. This is a very minor nit and not a deal breaker in any way.

I tested this keyboard with my iPad Mini and my Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet. Both worked well, paired easily and remembered when both the keyboard and the tablets were turned off. I also was able to have both of them paired with the keyboard at the same time.

The keyboard has a stand that holds a tablet in either vertical or horizontal position. The stand is very grippy, you can see that in the attached video. Both of my keyboards fit the stand, but only when the case/folio is removed.

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.

I am attaching a video which shows pairing the keyboard and using it with my tablets. 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 this keyboard for testing and review (be it positive or negative) from the manufacturer. I hope the video will help you set your expectations.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Product review: Leather Conditioner & Restorer by Leather Nova

video

I used this leather restore to rejuvenate my office chairs. It did a really nice job restoring their dull finish to shiny good looking leather. The content is a clear oil. This package include an applicator which worked very well in spreading the oil and picking up dirt. Be aware that the cleaning solution has a pretty strong scent. After applying the oil to leather it should be left on the leather for 1 hour before it is buffed. The strong scent dissipated over night. The bottle itself still smells and I store it in the plastic bag so I don't smell it.

The solution also waterproofs leather. It is not suitable to use with suede.

I received a sample for testing and review. I am very pleased with the results, however I did not like the scent of the solution. Luckily the scent does not persist for a long time.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, March 14, 2014

Product review: Ableconn USB3E1000 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet Network Adapter

video

This is a very nice compact Ethernet adapter. It feels solidly made and has metallic aluminium finish.

It is compact in size. This network adapter is 3"L x 7/8"W x 5/8"H. It weighs 1.5 oz. The network cable is 3" long. It is powered directly from the USB port.

To see whether it performs up to its specification I tested it connecting two Linux systems using iperf performance measuring tool.
I also compared its performance with two NICs built-in into my computer.

The network adapter performed well, as well as one might hope for a Gigabit adapter.

✔ For those who are interested in the specific details of the tests I am including them below.

Using USB 3.0 Port
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
USB 3 half duplex
[1] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 901 Mbits/sec

USB 3 full duplex
[2] 0.0-10.0 sec 996 MBytes 835 Mbits/sec
[3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.06 GBytes 905 Mbits/sec

Using USB 2.0 Port
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

USB 2, half duplex
[4] 0.0-10.0 sec 361 MBytes 302 Mbits/sec

✔ For comparison, performance of two built-in NICs in my computer
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Internal Ethernet NIC, Intel 82579V
-----------------------------------

Half duplex
[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.09 GBytes 935 Mbits/sec

Full Duplex
[ 5] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.08 GBytes 930 Mbits/sec
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 901 Mbits/sec

Internal Ethernet NIC, Qualcomm Atheros AR8151 2.0
-----------------------------------
Half duplex
[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.09 GBytes 934 Mbits/sec

Full duplex
[ 5] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 900 Mbits/sec
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 899 Mbits/sec


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Product review: Ableconn USB3HUBE0 USB 3.0 3-Port HUB with RJ45 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet

video

This 3-port network adapter comes with an AC power adapter. I was able to use the Ethernet and the USB slots (with memory sticks as well as charging a phone) without the power adapter. The power adapter can be used for USB devices that require more power than you can get directly from the USB port.

This network adapter is 4.125"L x 1.75"W x 0.875"H. It weighs 2.3 oz. The network cable is 2.5" long. The power adapter has a 68" power cord.

To see whether it performs up to its specification I tested it connecting two Linux systems using iperf peformance measuring tool. I also compared its performance with two NICs built-in into my computer.

The network adapter performed well, with the speed one might expect from a good quality Gigabit adapter.

⬤ For those who are interested in the specific details of the tests I am including them below.

♦ Ableconn Ethernet + 3.0 USB ports ASIX Elec AX88179
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Half Duplex
[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 901 Mbits/sec

Full Duplex
[ 5] 0.0-10.0 sec 988 MBytes 828 Mbits/sec
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 897 Mbits/sec

⬤ For comparison, performance of two built-in NICs in my computer
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
♦ Internal Ethernet NIC, Intel 82579V
-----------------------------------

Half duplex
[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.09 GBytes 935 Mbits/sec

Full Duplex
[ 5] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.08 GBytes 930 Mbits/sec
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 901 Mbits/sec

♦ Internal Ethernet NIC, Qualcomm Atheros AR8151 2.0
-----------------------------------
Half duplex
[ 3] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.09 GBytes 934 Mbits/sec

Full duplex
[ 5] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 900 Mbits/sec
[ 4] 0.0-10.0 sec 1.05 GBytes 899 Mbits/sec

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, March 10, 2014

Product review: amzdeal gimall Dual-port Portable High Capacity External Battery Charger Backup Power Bank

video

This external battery pack has 2 charging ports (1A and 2A) and 10000 mHat capacity. It has a nice black matt non-smudge finish and comes with a 9 inch charging cable. The battery itself is 5" long, 2.75" wide, and 0.625" thick. The battery together with the AC plug weigh 7.8 oz. 4 small LED lights indicate the charge level.

I tested GiMaill external battery pack with Samsung Nexus phone and Samsung Galaxy 7.7 tablet. For testing Galaxy tab I used my own charging cable (the package does not include any adapters).

I own a number of external batteries and to compare them I run the same set on tests on each of them, so they can be compared to each other using "apples to apples" comparison. This set of tests allows me to provide unbiased comparisons between different external batteries because I can compare based on numeric results of the tests. For those who are interested in the details of the test I include at the end of this review. For those who are interested in the bottom line this battery performed respectfully, falling in the middle of the pack.

★ How I tested this battery pack
==================================

I use a USB current monitor and a charging test to test each port. The current monitor shows the voltage and the current flowing between the battery and the device.

The amount of energy transferred from the charger to the device is calculated by multiplying voltage and current. Most of the chargers are 5V devices and most devices show the voltage very close to 5V. The interesting number is the current as it varies from unit to unit and from port to port.

The current varies based on what the device requires and what battery provides. This communication happens using different protocols depending on OS. Newer Android OS versions have adapted their protocols to get better performance from ports aimed at Apple devices. An addition variable for Android devices is whether a data cable or charging cable is used to charge the device. The charging cables short the two data connections together (rendering them useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection, and thus accept the higher current of the charging source.

The 10 minutes test consists of charging each mobile device on each port of the battery pack for 10 minutes and measure how much each unit was charge in that 10 minute period. Since the charging speed is non-linear I start charging each device from approximately the same charge level. 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.

★ Test Results:
======================

✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone
--------------------------
1A port ~~ AC charging rate ----- 4% change in charge in 10 minutes
1A port ~~ current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.92A and 4.98V

2A port ~~ AC charging rate ----- 7% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A port ~~ current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.00A and 5.09V

✔ Samsung Galaxy 7.7 Tablet
--------------------------
1A port ~~ AC charging rate ----- 5% change in charge in 10 minutes
1A port ~~ current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.38A and 5.00V

2A port ~~ AC charging rate ----- 5% change in charge in 10 minutes
2A port ~~ current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.41A and 4.99V

★ Summary
------------------
It does not have many extras (no flashlight, no travel pouch, no adapters) but it has a nice capacity and performed respectfully falling the middle of the pack. Enclosed user manual was entirely in Chinese, but the external pack was straightforward to use and I did not need the manual.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Product review: iKross 4-in-1 Universal Windshield / Dashboard / Sun Visor / Air Vent Car Mount

video

In the market place where there are so many car mounts that are very similar to each other 4-in-1 iKross car mount really stands out. In addition to the windshield and dash mount iKross 4-in-1 also includes a mount that attaches to the car's vent and the car's visor.

The phone holder is universal, it opens from 1.6" to 4.1" wide and the arms extend 1.125". My Nexus phone has an extended battery which makes it much fatter than a typical smart phone. However this holder holds my big girl very securely.

★ The windshield mount held securely and the 4" arm brings the phone to a nice distance to the driver. 360 degree swivel ball joint allows full freedom of positioning.
★ The dash mount works with a disk that needs to be permanently adhered to the dash. The gel pad can be washed for longer life.
★ The mount that I was most interested was the vent mount. We use windshield mounted Nexus 7 for navigation, however occasionally we also need to refer to information on the phone and I typically have to hold it in my hands. A vent mount allows us to have both devices mounted in way that is convenient for the driver to see. The vent mount hold very well, but it took a bit of experimenting to wind a quick and easy way to mount it on the vent. I fount that the easiest way to mount it was to dissemble it and to mount the arms into the vent first (see video), then add the plate, and then attach the phone mount. The mount works on horizontal air louvre vents.
★ The visor clip put the phone an an awkward position for using during driving. I had to take my eyes off the road quite a bit and it did not feel like a good option to navigation. However, it was a pretty nice option if you wanted to use your phone as a music player that you did not have to look at.

Overall, I thought it was a nice package that gave us some unique options.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Product review: Liger High Output 3 Port USB Car Charger 3.1a (15w)

video

Liger car charger did something I have never seen in any other charger: when I inserted it into the car's electrical socket for the first time it retracted its center contact (my husband described it as "a frightened turtle"). With the center contact retracted it did not make contact with the car's electrical system and I could not get any power to the charger. My husband managed to get the contact tip out with a pen, but it happened again as soon as I inserted into the socket for the second time. I was not able to use it even once.

I received a sample charger from the manufacturer for testing and review. Getting a sample does not influence what I say, the review is purely based on how the product worked.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★☆☆☆☆

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Product review: iXCC ® Jumbo Defender 8-Pin Lightening Cable

video

iXCC Jumbo Defender Data Sync & Charging Cable is a cheaper alternative to Apple lightning cable. The cable is 38" long. To see how it measures up to the original Apple cable I ran the same charging test on Apple lightning cable that came with my iPad Mini and iXCC Cable.

Why run these tests? To make sure the cable is not faulty and delivers as advertised. I have tested several generic lightning cables and some charged my iPad Mini slower that the Apple OEM cable. However, this cable delivered on par with the original Apple charging cable.

My methodology is to charge iPad Mini for 10 minutes using each of the cables and measuring how much iPad Mini got charged in that 10 minute period. Since the charging speed is non-linear I start charging each device from approximately the same charge level. I ran each test twice on each cable to make sure there are no variations between the two charging cycles. In addition I measure the current with current meter. For those who are interested in the details of the test I am including the results below.

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

✔ Apple Lightning Cable to USB plug cable
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
10 minutes ~~~~~~ 4% change in charge in 10 minutes
current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.66A and 5.05V

✔ iXCC Jumbo Defender Cable to USB plug cable
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
10 minutes ~~~~~~ 4% change in charge in 10 minutes
current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.63A and 5.10V

The iXCC Jumbo Defender Cable performed as well as the original Apple Cable in my tests.

I received this cable from the manufacturer for testing and review (positive or negative). In my test I was able to compare two cables in "apples to apples" (no pun!) comparison, and they performed the same. Based on the results of the test I rate this cable as a 5 star product.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Product review: OXA Qi Wireless Charger

video

This is my third wireless charger and my favorite thus far. In addition to excellent charging speed it has one other key design feature. This charger has a rubberised ring in the center which creates a bit of extra friction especially if you have a rubberised skin on the phone. My first two chargers have a smooth finish which turned out to be an important difference. A smooth finish makes it easy to knock of the phone from the charger, especially if you have a pet or a child who  might unintentionally do it without you noticing. 

OXA wireless charger is 5.125" by 3.375" and 0.625" thick. It weighs 7.2 oz.

This charger is not only a wireless charger but a 70000mAh external power pack. In addition to wireless charging it is capable of charging another device via a mini USB cable. The package includes two micro USB to USB cables: one is 55" and the other is 10.5".

WIRELESS
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I ran several test to see how fast this wireless charger is charging the phone. I included the details of these test below for those who are interested, but to summarize the test I can say that this charger has a excellent  performance.

In addition to excellent performance there are several things I really like about the design of this charger:
1. It is an external power pack in addition to being a charger
2. It uses a generic USB to micro USB charging cable not a proprietary charging cable.
3. Its shape matches the shape of the phone, so it is easy to place it right on the sweet spot on the wireless charger
4. It has a rubberised ring in the middle of the charging sweet spot, which creates nice friction with the phone
This charger provides the best friction with the phone among the three chargers I own. Ideally, I would like the charger to be shaped as a tray with raised edges so it would be impossible to push the phone off the charger.

The minor weak point of the charger is the light that indicates that wireless charging is on.  This LED is fairly dim and it is hard to see whether it when the light is bright in the room.

WIRED
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In addition to being a wireless charger, this battery can also be used to charge a wired mobile device from a USB port.  The USB port does not charge if the charger itself being charged. Note that wireless charging works both when the external battery itself is charging and when the battery is not connected to AC.

I tested charging Nexus 5 wireless and Nexus 7 via the charging port at the same time. I tried both a data cable (charging at USB rate) and a charging cable (charging at AC rate). When the second device was charged using a data cable it charged but charging was fairly slow, while wireless charging was superb.  When the second device was charged using a charging cable the charger could not charge both devices, the unit shut down. Charging only once device with a charging wire worked well, the device was charged at a good speed (average compared to other external batteries).

How I tested the wireless charger:
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I tested the charger with a current monitor to see what current it is drawing. I also did a 10 minute charging test which I run on all chargers I test to compare how much the phone was charged in 10 minutes. Since the charging speed is non-linear I start charging each device from approximately the same charge level.

✔ Wireless Charger (phone not charging)
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current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.01A (i.e. not drawing any current)

✔ Wireless Charger plugged into AC (Nexus 5 phone charging)
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6% change in charge in 10 minutes
current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.07A and 5.15V

✔ Wireless Charger NOT plugged into AC (Nexus 5 phone charging)
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6% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Wireless (Nexus 5 phone) and Wired (Nexus 7 tablet)  using a data cable
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Wireless 6% change in charge in 10 minutes
Wired    2% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔ Wireless (Nexus 5 phone) and Wired (Nexus 7 tablet)  using a charging cable
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Wireless - unit shut down, power demand too high
Wired    - unit shut down, power demand too high

✔ Wired (Nexus 7 tablet) by itself using a data cable
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Wired    2% change in charge in 10 minutes

✔  Wired (Nexus 7 tablet) by itslef using a charging cable
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Wired    5% change in charge in 10 minutes

Overall, this an excellent wireless charger.  It is now my favorite of the three I own.  Not only does it give me superb wireless charging, I can also charge another device at the same time via a micro USB cable.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


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