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Friday, October 31, 2014

Product review: GRDE LED Solar Security Motion Sensor Floodlight


The good news about this light is that the design is very flexible. The lights can be mounted quite a distance away from the solar panel, the angle of the lights can be adjusted many different ways, same goes for the motion sensor. The bad news about this light is that the light, the housing, and the adjustment knobs are made out of light duty plastic. The light does not feel solidly made, the screws that hold the lights do not tighten as snugly as I would have liked. I am worried about over-tightening them and breaking them so I did not tighten them as I normally would.

The lights are meant to be mounted on a vertical surface. You cannot mount on the horizontally surface casting the light down due to how the screw holes are oriented. The lights are reasonably bright (I would say equivalent to 40W incandescent bulb). They are spot lights and light up two distinct well defined areas. When mounted 5 feet high they light about an area about 4 feet across each. I am attaching a video as an illustration for this review.

In the configuration you see in the video the light is 7 inches tall (from the motion sensor to the top of the lights) and 9" wide (from outside of one light to the outside of the other light). The light weighs 10.15 oz. The solar panel is 6.5" x 5.5". The cord that connects the solar panel to the light is quite long, it is 193 inches.

The motion sensor works pretty reliably. The sensitivity can be adjusted from the minimum 6.5 feet to maximum of 16.5 feet. The duration of how long the light stays can be adjusted from 20 seconds to 60 seconds.

So what's the bottom line? It works, the design is very flexible, the knobs do not feel soldly made. I rate the design as 5 stars, I rate the materials as 3 stars, overall 4 stars. I will update this review on how it is holding up over time.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Product review: CHEERLINK full HD 5 input HDMI switch


One of my TVs has only one HDMI ports and I got this switcher to allow me to hook up additional devices. This package includes just the switcher, you will need to provide your own HDMI cable to hook the switcher to the TV, and then an HDMI cable for each of your devices.

The switcher has five HDMI ports to attach up to five HDMI devices. So far I am using two of the five ports. Once you switch your TV to the HDMI input, you need to select which one of HDMI device attached to the splitter you want.

There are three ways to do it
❶ The switcher automatically selects a port (the device that was turned on last)
❷ You can select a port manually by pushing a button on the HDMI switch
❸ You can use the remote control that comes with switcher and to select 1-2-3-4-5

The front of the switch lights up the selected device in blue, and the devices that are attached but not selected in red.

AC adapter is included with the switch and the switch has to be plugged in to function. The remote runs on CR2025 3V Lithium battery.

I did not see any deterioration in signal and overall I am quite pleased. Is it the same as using HDMI inputs on the TV? No. There is a noticable pause of several seconds between pressing a button and seeing something on the screen. On the TV that has multiple HDMI output the switch between inputs is instant.

Overall, I am pleased with the switch but I would have found the configuration more convinient of the power cord plugged in the back.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Product review: Vinsic Classic 5000mah Power Bank


This is a slick and thin battery it is 3" x 4.5" x 7/16" and only 4.95 oz. Some of its 5000 mAh capacity is lost to inefficiencies such as heat so it is safe to assume that it provide about 3800 mAh power. It has a single 1A charging port. 1A is below optimal for Apple devices, but fine for Android.

This charger worked with both my Nexus phone and iPad Mini but it is not a fast charger. To tell how various battery packs perform I measure their performance with a current monitor. I use Samsung Nexus phone and iPad Mini for testing to give me a Android and an Apple mobile devices. I test all my chargers using the same charging cables and starting all tests at same charge level of the phone to account for non-linear charging. This allows me to compare different batteries to each other so I can rate the battery keeping everything else constant.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.92/5.07V (close to optimal charging)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.93/5.07V (below optimal)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

Its nice thin shape makes it convenient to carry in a purse or pocket. This charger is not a work horse, but its shape is convenient to take it anywhere I go as a backup power for my Android phone.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Product review: Eco Touch TSH16 Tire Shine


Attached video contains "before" and "after" photos of my tires. This job did not take a lot of elbow grease, each tire took one to two minutes. I used Eco Touch applicator which is a very nicely designed sponge with an indentation for your fingers (keeps your fingers away while giving you a lot of control). I also liked that the solution was totally unscented. Eco Touch tire shine is a white creamy solution. I only needed a small dab of it per each tire to get a low-gloss shine on it.

Note that the bottle comes with a foil seal under the cap. It took me a few squeezes that produced nothing to look under the cap to see the reason for my problem.

Ingredients:
filtered water
cetyl esters (plant-based conditioning agent)
xantham gum
fragrance oil blend
preservative

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, October 24, 2014

Product review: Lomui 5200mAh External Battery Power Pack


The Lomui 5200mAh charger is one of the smallest batteries of this capacity I have seen. It is easily fits in my purse or funny pack. With capacity 5200mAh it is not intended for a real heavy use, but it is good for portable emergency power. The battery is only 3.5"x1.75"x0.75" and its weight is only 4.10 ounces. It has one charging port (1A).

I noticed that the Amazon description has a couple of errors:
(1) this power pack has no built-in flashlight mentioned in the title
(2) this package came without a small bag mentioned in the description

Neither thing is a big deal for me but for completeness of the review I wanted to include this information.

The charging status is indicated by a tiny LED indicator. It is blue when a mobile device is being, and red when the battery is being charged. There is no indication of how much charge is left in the battery.

This charger worked with both my Android Nexus phone and iPad Mini tablet. iPad Mini needs more than 1A for optimal charging speed so with 1A port below optimal speed of charging is an expected outcome.

To tell how various battery packs perform I measure their performance with a current monitor. I use Samsung Nexus phone and iPad Mini for testing to give me a Android and an Apple mobile devices. I test all my chargers using the same charging cables and starting all tests at same charge level of the phone to account for non-linear charging. This allows me to compare different batteries to each other so I can rate the battery keeping everything else constant.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lomui: ___ 0.90/5.03V (somewhat below optimal)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lomui:___ 0.93/5.02V (below optimal)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

I like the shape and size of this battery. It comes in very attractive colors. It is good for emergency power on the go.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Product review: OnlyTM Innovative Car Cover all weather car cover S-Series for Sedan



There are two things about OnlyTM covers that make them easier to put on the car than other covers we have used. First, the cover has two stiff poles at the front and at the back of the cover, which increases the leverage one has when putting the cover on. Second, the cover has straps that Veclro to the carpet inside the car's trunk. This means the cover does not slip off the car as you put it on. If you ever tried putting a regular car cover on a car, you probably familiar with need to make several passes over the car as it slips off of one end while you are working on covering other. This cover locks in, so it works as if you have a second pair of hands helping you.

This our second OnlyTM cover. The first cover was for my SUV. My SUV was a little harder to cover than my husband's sedan. My SUV is tall and has a 12" antenna, so it what worked well for SUV is to work front to back so I could use the leverage the poles gave to swing the cover over the the antenna is same direction the antenna is leaning. This means I do not use the straps.

My husbands car has a knob antenna, so he found that locking the straps in the trunk and working back to front works best on his car, because he can take advantage of both unique features of this cover. He can cover the car in about 2 minutes, much faster than his old cover.

Some other notes from my experience with both cars covers:

1. This cover is designed to hang on the bumper when not in use. Neither one of us are using this feature. Both of our cars have backup sensors on the car bumper (I circled them in the video). On both cars we were not able to find a position in which the cover would avoid covering the backup sensors. Therefore carrying the cover hanging off the bumper as designed is not an option for either of our cars.

2. Neither one of us was able to fit the cover back into its original bag, we just could not make the bundle small enough in a reasonable amount of time. We are using plastic tubs to store the covers, this ways we don't need to worry about being neat when the cover is put way.

3. Both my husband and I rate putting the cover on and removing it as "easy" (a huge improvement over my feelings about regular car covers).

My video includes a number of images of the cover and my husband's sedan. His car is using S-52 cover. For reference the dimensions of his car are:
Body Length.......196.80 " (16.4 fee)
Body width........74.10 " (6.175 feet)
Body height.......58.40 " (4.8 feet)

The quality of the fabric looks good. It is silver on one side, white on the other side. The thickness is heavier than I imaged from the photo and it feels fairly sturdy. However only time will tell how it will hold up in New England winter. We am planning to use both covers in the snow and will post an update after I know how they handle the winter.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Monday, October 20, 2014

Product review: Polaris V8 Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker with FM Radio, NFC, AUX Jack, TF Card Slot



Polaris speaker can operate as a bluetooth speaker, wired speaker, as FM radio and as an MP3 player. MP3 player uses a TF memory slot. TF memory slot is used for reading regular micro SD memory cards.

In the attached video I show FN radio, streaming music from a micro SD memory card as well as streaming music via bluetooth from my iPad Mini.

♦ The bluetooth speaker works quite well. The sound is crisp and clear. Even bass sounded good for a speaker of this size. To help me evaluate and compare different speakers I always use the same piece of music I can different speakers to each other. As a stress test for the bass I use Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Polaris speaker handled the most challenging part of the Bach's Fugue well. A lot of small speakers crackle in two spots of the Fugue, but this speaker handled it well.

♦ The speaker runs on removable and rechargeable 18650 lithium battery. This is a standard battery which is available on Amazon. This battery can be recharged in the speaker using a standard USB/micro USB cable. The speaker can be used to stream music while it is recharging.

♦ The speaker arrived with a clear plastic tab inserted between the battery contacts and the speaker to prevent the battery from discharging. The tab is under the battery and is hard to see if you just remove the cover. If you lift up the battery you will see it. Initially, I thought the battery was dead but eventually I found the tab.

♦ When the battery level drops low you hear a voice prompt "battery low" and the speaker volume level will drop around 40% to save the battery power. From that point on the speaker continues to work for another 30 minutes until the battery is completely drained.

♦ FM radio reception was not bad. I got quite a few stations. Some of them were a little hissy but Polaris performed better than many other small FM radios I have tried.

♦ It works well as an MP3 player that I can listen to without earphones.

♦ The speaker can be made quite loud. Volume control buttons are on the top of the speaker.

♦ The speaker weights 23.30 oz. Its dimension are 7.5"L x 2.25"W x 2.75"H

Overall, I thought it produced good sound plus I its versatility of being both an MP3 player and a bluetooth speaker.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Product review: MIRA Brands Milk Frother - Summit



I like having frothy coffee in the morning. In the past I have used hand hand milk frothers which I thought worked pretty well. However, Mira frother takes the froth to the next level. It generates very silky froth with smaller denser bubbles compared to the hand frother.

Mira frother is so quiet that if you don't look at it you would not know it was working. What you see in the video is froth from soy milk. Whole milk, of course, makes the thickest creamiest foam, soy milk and almond milk also work with relatively less dense bubbles.

The instructions on cleaning said not to submerge the frother in water. I thought this will make clean up difficult, but it is not. I angled it under the running water and then wipe it with a soapy sponge. As long as I do this fairly quickly after the froth was made the clean-up is easy.

The max and min amount of milk are marked on the container. The minimum is 1/3 cup of milk, the maximum is 2/3 cup. The frother has two modes to generate heated froth or cold froth. The frother can also be used to warm milk without frothing (minimum of 1/3 cup and maximum of 1 1/4 cup). If you want to just warm the milk do not insert the frother spring.

Note that there are two attachments in the frother, one is attached to the cap and one to the spindle in cup. The unit is 6.5" tall without the base, and 7.5" with the base. Its weight is 24.45 oz without the base, and 32.10 oz with the base. The base is 4.5" by 4.5" square. It has a fairly short electrical cord (26"), which could good or bad depending on where your outlets are located. My outlets are right near where I keep the frother so it worked out to be a plus because I don't need to coil a long cord.

This frother is provided by Mira. Mira offers a 2 year warranty on the frother.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Product review: Abco Tech Air Vent Universal Car Mount Holder


I like this vent mount because it puts the phone close to me and I can see it better and it is easy for me to control it. The car mount has a push button on the back that opens the jaws automatically this makes it very easy to mount the phone even if you have to do it with one hand. The jaws open 3 7/8" wide. The sides extend 5/8" and are cable of holding my Nexus phone with extended battery which makes it quite fat.

Abco vent mount is simple to mount on the vent. The back of the mount has supports which allow it to brace the car vent, which means the weight of the phone did not pull the slats down. I could still get air flowing around the phone.

Overall, the mount feels securely attached and holding the phone securely as well.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Product review: Yubi Power Expansion Surge Wall Tap - Four Outlets Grounded Surge Protection


I found the shape of this expansion wall outlet very convenient. My hallway has a long night light that blocked both outlets on a standard double outlet, because this expansion tap has outlets on both side I was able to mount my night light on one side and still have two more outlets for plugging in the vacuum and anything else I need in the hallway.

The outlet is 5" long and 1.5" wide near the base. It has 4 outlets, two on each side. It plugs into a two outlet wall outlet, it uses one outlet for electricity and uses the second outlet's grounding opening to stabilize the entire plug. It feels sturdy and stable.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Product review: Key Power® External Battery Charger 10,400 mAh Portable Power Bank


This battery is quite compact for 10400 mAh capacity. It is 2 3/8"L x 5 5/8"W x 3/4"H. It has two ports and a small built-in flashlight. This external battery does NOT support charge through (it can not charge devices while it is being charged).

I like its bright charging level indicator. The indicator comes on when you plug in a device or when you press the on button and then turns off in a few seconds.

This charger did very well with my iPad Mini on port B. The results on Port A as well as the results of test for Nexus phone were below optimal (although above USB rate). I am including test results below for those who are interested in the details.

This external battery capacity is rated at 10400 mAh. Some capacity is lost to inefficiencies such as heat you can expect to get about 7800 mAh out of it. I was able to charge my Samsung Nexus phone with 3800 mAh extended battery from close to empty to full twice.

To tell how various battery packs perform I measure their performance with a current monitor. I use Samsung Nexus phone and iPad Mini for testing to give me a Android and an Apple mobile devices. I test all my chargers using the same charging cables and starting all tests at same charge level of the phone to account for non-linear charging. This allows me to compare different batteries to each other so I can rate the battery keeping everything else constant.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Key Power A port:___ 0.76/5.00V (below optimal)
Key Power B port:___ 0.74/5.00V (below optimal)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Key Power A port:___ 0.93/4.87V (below optimal)
Key Power B port:___ 1.62/4.87V (Excellent!)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

I was most impressed by the performance on port B for my iPad Mini, This battery pack is optimized for fast charging of Apple devices on port B. It has a nice capacity and two ports. If you use Android devices and speed of charging is important this is not the speediest battery pack available.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, October 10, 2014

Product review: Car Sun Shade - Luxury 2-Pack Car Sunshade


I installed these car shades in our two cars 11 days ago. I used suction cups and so far they stayed on and have not fallen off. In my small SUV the car shade looks somewhat undersized, however in my husband's sedan if it was any bigger it would not fit on glass portion of he window.

The shade size is 19.25" 12.5".
The shade comes with a storage bag which is 8" x 7".

This sun shade does not totally dim the sun, it dims it. In attached video I put it in such a way that you sun direct sun and sun coming through the shade next to each so you can the difference the shade makes. I am quite sensitive to the sun, so I am using this shade to give me shade. I have one on my driver's side when I drive, and the other on in our second car when the hubby drives. The shade does provide some protection and a bit of cooling. The plus of the light protection is that the shade is very transparent, so especially when I use it when I drive it is good because I can see just as well with it as without it.

The shade is made out of two layers, one side is a black netting that provide the shade the other one is a clear plastic sheet that clings to the window. Both layers are attached to the metal frame which you can clip into suction cups. The shade is cling fine to window, but I decided suction cups will hold it more securely when the temperature shades. There are a total of 4 cups, 2 for each shade. If one shade does not provide enough shade it is possible to double up and hang them one of top of another.

Attached video shows the shade in both of our cars, as well as the view you get when you look through the shade.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Product review: Yubi Power Surge Slim -Ultimate Power Surge Protector - 6 Outlets Plus 2 USB Ports


This expanded outlet allowed me to go from two AC outlets to 6 AC outlets plus 2 USB ports. The ports are packed pretty tightly together so large plugs cover more than one outlet, but with 6 outlets this still leaves me with plenty of choices.

The outlet is 5" long and 3.6" wide. It plugs into a two outlet wall outlet. It uses one outlet for electricity and uses the second outlet's grounding opening to stabilize the entire plug. It comes with a mounting screw that can replace the central screw of the wall outlet. I thought the outlet mounted securely without the screw as I have only one large outlet on it.

I tested the two USB ports using a current monitor using both Android and Apple mobile devices. My test show that both ports worked with both devices. I got very good performance on port A for my iPad Mini tablet. The B port was below optimal for iPad Mini. With my Android device both ports were under optimal but above USB speed.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Port A:___ 0.80/5.00V
Port B:___ 0.90/5.00V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Port A:___ 1.73/5.00V (excellent!)
Port B:___ 0.93/5.00V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Product review: Elivebuy® iOS-DeviceFlash Memory Card Reader Flash Drive


So nice to have a card reader that works with all of my devices. I tested this card reader with my iPad Mini, my Windows laptop, and Linux desktop. All three were able to read and write to SD and micro SD cards mounted in this card reader. It is nice to be able to add content to my tablet without having an internet connection.

On iPad Mini I am using this card reader in combination with iFlashDrive HD utility. This utility is free. As soon as I inserted the card reader into iPad Mini I got a prompt that the App is not installed and took me to the app store.

The card reader is 2 5/8" x 1 1/4" x 3/8" in size and weighs 0.9 oz.

I used class 10 sd card to benchmark this card reader:
♦ Average read 10 MB/sec
♦ Average write 5 MB/s
♦ Average access time is 1.30 secs
Attached video includes the chart generated by the benchmark utility for those who like the visual representation of the test.

For comparison, here are the benchmarks on the same card using my computer's card reader:
♦ Average read 21.5 MB/sec
♦ Average write 4.3 MB/s

As you see Elivebuy read speed is significantly slower but its write speed is a little faster. Its main strength is the universal ability to work with different devices.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, October 6, 2014

Product review: V7 High Capacity Micro SDXC UHS-1 Memory Card


I am using this class 10 micro sd card in a security camera. The camera records 30 minute segments with an average size of 80MB, so in a day it creates approximately 3840 MB. That means a 4G micro SD can hold about 1 day of continuous video where as this 64G micro SD gives me about 2 weeks of video, which much more useful especially if when I go on vacation.

I run performance benchmarks on the micro sd card:

In micro SD drive:
♦ Average read 27.9 MB/sec
♦ Average write 15.9 MB/s
♦ Average access time 1.71 msec

in SD drive using included adapter:
♦ Average read 27.8 MB/sec
♦ Average write 15.8 MB/s
♦ Average access time 1.67 msec

Attached video includes the chart generated by the benchmark utility for those who like the visual representation of the test.

I am very pleased with this micro SD card, it is fast and this capacity is great for a security camera. 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.

V7 provides a 5-year warranty on this micro sd card.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Product review: Key Power® External Battery CHARGER 8000mAh Portable Power Bank



KeyPower external battery has one charging ports and a small built-in flashlight. This external battery capacity is rated at 8000 mAh. Some capacity is lost to inefficiencies such as heat you can expect to get about 6000 mAh out of it. I was able to charge my Samsung Nexus phone with 3800 mAh extended battery from low levels to full twice.

The battery weighs 7.10 oz, and is 4.75" x 2.5" x 0.5" in size. This battery has a bright charge level indicator, the indicator when you plug in a device or when you press the on button and then turns off in a second or two. The battery can charge mobile devices while it is being charged itself.

To tell how various battery packs perform I measure their performance with a current monitor. I use Samsung Nexus phone and iPad Mini for testing to give me a Android and an Apple mobile devices. I test all my chargers using the same charging cables and starting all tests at same charge level of the phone to account for non-linear charging. This allows me to compare different batteries to each other so I can rate the battery keeping everything else constant.

This battery performed close to optimal for my iPad Mini and but was a bit underpowered for my Nexus phone (but still above USB rate of charging). The built-in flashlight is not terribly bright, but handy to have in an emergency.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
KeyPower single port:___ 0.84/5.05V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
KeyPower single port:___ 1.58/4.80V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

This battery has a nice form factor, easy to read charging indicator, and performed well for iPad Mini.




Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Product review: HomeFlav Expandable Garden Hose 75ft


This garden hose has non-standard connectors. The package contains two pieces: the house and the sprayer. I was able to connect the sprayer to the hose with a supplied connector. This connector looks similar to a quick connect coupler but has 4 metal screws that required a screwdriver to tighten. The hose end that attaches to the water source does not have a female coupler to attach the hose to the faucet. It looks like some sort of a quick connect system, but it is missing the other side of the connector so I was not able to attach it to the water source.

I received this garden hose from HomeFlav with a request for an honest review. I notified HomeFlav of the problem and they are investigating. As it stands now I cannot recommend this hose.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★☆☆☆☆