Saturday, February 28, 2015

Product review: INSTEN® 10400mAh High Capacity Dual USB Power Bank

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♦ size: 3 7/8" x 2 3/4" x 7/8"
♦ weight: 8.30 oz
♦ number of ports: 2
♦ flashlight: no
♦ pass through charging: yes (i.e. the battery can charge while being charged itself)
♦ cable: 11.5" charging cable

This external battery is relatively compact for its large capacity of 10400 mAh. It has two ports and came with a short charging cable (charging cables are more efficient charging the phones then the data cables, that charge at USB rate).

I like the capacity of this battery but it was not a speedy charger for either my Android Phone or iPadMini tablet. My current monitor shows that one the ports is 1A and the second is 2A even though they are not labelled on the battery itself. I am including the details of the tests at the end of the review for those who are interested in the nitty gritty numbers.

To see how well different chargers and external batteries charge my mobile devices I use a Nexus phone and an iPadMini to test each of them. I do my tests with the devices charged to the same level, running the same applications and using the same cables to keep everything the same. This allows me to compare them to each other in a fair way. I use the current monitor to see what current is delivered to each device which tells me how well each external battery is working.

I also tested to see if the battery supports pass-through charging (i.e. whether the battery can charge mobile devices while it is being charged). Yes, it can charge while being charged.

For Android devices it matters if a cable used to charge the device is a charging cable or a data cable. In a charging cables the two data connections are shorted together (rendering the cable useless for data transfer), but this fools devices to see the cable as an AC power connection and thus the battery accept a higher current for charging. Most of the time external batteries come with a charging cable, but every now I run across a manufacturer that encloses data cables with external batteries. It is not easy to tell what cable you got unless you have a current monitor. I always include this test in my reviews so people can improve the performance of the battery by switching to a charging cable. Good news in this case - Insten package includes a charging cable.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port: 0.84A/4.99V (below average)
2A port: 0.98A/5.01V (good)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port: 0.93A/5.01V (average for 1A port)
2A port: 1.12A/5.02V (below average for 2A port)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

I have been using this battery for several weeks without problems as I write this review. It does the job and does not get warm as it is charging.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Product review: TabletTail: Lynx by Octa

video

This is a truly ingenious gadget. An engineer in me marvels at its construction. If there was a competition for making the most mechanically sophisticated and complex clamp possible this little guy could win! The amount of gears and mechanisms for making every part work is pretty impressive. And it works exceptionally well, this thing really holds! I just needed to consult the manual a few times.

It might be quite complex to figure out the first time without a manual, but the manual is excellent and shows every step in many clear diagrams. My video includes a sample page from the manual as well as the images of the tablet holder in use.

This clamp is quite universal - it accepts a large range of tablet sizes and can clamp to anything. I was able to mount my oddly shaped 7 inch tablet (7" x 4") to a floor lamp with a round post. It has been up there for close to 2 weeks being used daily and charging. It has not budged.

In a world of tablet holders that look similar this one really stands out as different. If you know a gadget geek this tablet holder would make a great gift.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Product review: Qi Charger WiPack Qi Wireless Portable Battery Charger 3000mAh

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I have been using Qi chargers with Nexus 5 for about a year. I love the technology, it is convenient and does not stress on the micro USB connector by constantly needing to connect and disconnect it. I own several Qi chargers and through experience found several features that make some Qi Chargers work better in day to day use than others.

➀ Speed of charging

Some charger charge my phone faster than others. Speed is always important to me. I compared charging Nexus 5 with WiPack Qi Charger to the same test run with the other chargers and found that it falls in the middle of the pack. It is not the speediest and not the worst. On avereage it up charges the phone 5% in 10 minutes.

I was able to charge the phone from 65% to full in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The battery in WiPack went from fully charged 4 dots to 1 steady dot.
Looking at the level of charge during this charging cycle:
Start -------------- Phone battery is 65% full, WiPack 100% full (4 dots)
15 minutes later --- Phone battery is 76% full, WiPack at 3 dots
52 minutes later --- Phone battery is 93% full, Wipack at 2 dots
1h 20 min later --- Phone battery is 100% full, Wipack at 1 dot

Note: Nexus 5 is running Lollipop 5.0.1 release of Android OS.

➁ How well the phone stays on the Qi charger

The phone can be easily knocked off the sweet spot of the charger unintentionally (especially if you have kids or pets). The charges that handle those unintentional bumps best are the ones that have non-slippery finish. WiPack has a slick surface which looks great but has a drawback of being slippery. The sweet spot is average size. As you can see in the video I have slightly under 1/2" in either direction.
WiPack size is 5.125" x 2.5" x 0.31", it is a good match for Nexus 5 which is 5.43" x 2.72" x .34". WiPack weighs 3.90 oz.

My trick for charging on the go: When I need to charge the phone on the go (i.e. when it cannot lay flat) I double wrap a rubber band around the phone and a Qi Charger. This keeps the phone on a sweet spot charging in a pocket/purse. I like it better than having a micro USB connector which can be damaged if the phone/battery are jarred. The rubber band trick works very well with this Qi Charger because it is square, thin, and similar in size to Nexus 5.

➂ How easy it is to see that the phone is charging

I like being able to see a visual indicator that the phone is charging. If the phones stops charging I like having a quick way of telling this without having to look at the phone charging status. Nexus 5 is 5.43" x 2.72" x .34" in size, so WiPack is just a little bit smaller than Nexus 5. But because the difference is fairly small I can still see the charging indicator under the phone (as shown in the video). The indicator lights are pretty small, I prefer slightly larger and easier to see indicators but they work ok.

When Qi charger is working you see a red light on the charging indicator. If it is not charging the lights are green.

➃ Is the battery using standard cables

I like the chargers that use a standard micro USB cable, so I don't need to worry about losing a special cable. WiPack uses the standard micro USB cable. Excellent!

➄ Whether the Qi Charger provides charge through charging (i.e. I want to be able to charge the charger while my phone is charging on top of the charger).
WiPack does NOT support charge through charging when it is in wired mode, however it does charge in wireless mode when the battery is plugged in and charging. Since the capacity of the battery is not that large this is critical for over-night charging. It works!

✔ Wireless Charging (Nexus 5 phone)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
5% upcharge in 10 minutes (average)

✔ Wired Charging (Nexus 5 phone charging via micro USB cable)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
current monitor: ~~~~~ 1.11A and 5.05V (Excellent)

✔ Wired iPad Mini Tablet
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.93A / 5.08V (below average in general, but typical for 1A port)
(for comparison, for the fastest charger I own the current monitor for Nexus 5 shows 1.42A/5.21V)

✔ Wired Charging (Galaxy Nexus phone)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.88A / 5.07V (below average)

Bottom line? I thought it was good. Its thinness and shape makes the battery work well with my rubber band trick and that is very important to me for charging on the go. The battery is average in the speed of charging. It looks sleek and is a good match for Nexus 5.

I received this Qi charger with a request for a detailed and honest review from Wireless Efficiency. I hope the pluses and minuses I described will help you determine if this charger a good match for you.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Product review: Mobin Series - Wall Mounted Organizer with Detachable/Tilted Bins - works on a pegboard

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I was very happy to discover that this bin can be mounted on my peg board. I used regular small hooks which line up perfectly with the two mounting holes on the back.

★ The dimensions of the back panel are 16.5" x 4.25". The two mounting holes are 11" apart. Note the package does not contain any mountain hardware.
★ Each bin is each bin: 2.5"H x 2"W x 2"D. They easily remove from the holder, and also can be tilted forward for easy access. The covers lock in place.
★ With the bins mounted the storage extends 3.25" out from the wall.

Everything fits and operates well. I am very pleased with it as an easy to access storage for my frequently used screws and nuts.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Saturday, February 21, 2015

What to do if your social security number was stolen by a thief who filed a tax return using that number?

 During the last year there were many different data breaches and some people's social security numbers have been stolen.  It appears that some thieves filed returns using the stolen social security numbers.  If this happens the person who tries to file an electronic  return using H&R Block or TurboTax software they will get the following error:

IRS records show the spouse's Social Security number (SSN) on this return is the same as the primary taxpayer's SSN on another return already filed this year. Double-check your spouse's SSN. Fix any issues and e-file again. Otherwise, you'll have to file a paper return.

What to do if this happens?

1. Call H&R Bock (1-800-472-5625) told them of the issue

2. Call IRS (1-800-829-1040) had them flag the SS#
IRS states that people need to mail completed return, a copy of police report or Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f14039.pdf, copy of Drivers License or passport or SS card.

3. Call Equifax and had them put an alert on the SS# (They notify Experian and TransUnion as well)

4. Call Social Security Administration and notify them (1-800-772-1213)

5. File with FTC https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information#crnt&panel1-1

6. File a police report of a possible identity theft

Friday, February 20, 2015

Product review: HIS® Gear Up AC Power 65W - Power bank with AC outlet plug

video

I have been wishing for a power bank with AC outlet for a while. I have several reason why I wished for this type of device.

✔ It seems I lose electricity at least a few times every year. In the summer when I lose power I keep cool by using a veryy small fan which can run from a USB battery. It was better than nothing but how I wished I could power my regular tower fan from a battery! Now I can!

✔ I use a lot of desk LED lamps powered from external power banks. I prefer power banks because I don't need to run cords, however my favorite desk lamps do not have a cable which can be converted to run from USB power. This power bank solves the problem and now I can use my best desk lamps rather than just the ones that happen to take a USB adapter.

✔ I own Neos, an Android PC, which is a large tablet but needs to be plugged into AC to work as it has no built-in battery. I have it located in a spot which does not have a convenient AC outlet and this means requires a long extension cord running across the room. Now I can run it directly from this power bank sitting next to it.

✔ I have an old PC which I still use but don't use it enough to justify a new battery. Now I can run it from the power bank without needing an AC outlet.

To charge this power bank you need a special cord and a special AC adapter. This is the only part of the package I did not like, I would have preferred something standard. The package also includes a universal AC adapter for international travel and pouch which can fit either the cords or the battery, but not both.

To fully charged a completely drained Power Ups battery takes me 2 hours and 30 minutes.

So now did GearUP perform each of my tasks?

AC port
~~~~~~~~~~
♦♦♦ Using Windows laptop
I started with the laptop at 30% and with HIS Gear Up fully charged. 28 minutes later the laptop beeped to tell me that the charging stopped. The laptop was at 74% and HIS Gear Up totally drained. The battery got quite hot powering the laptop. This turned out to be my least favorite use of the battery.

♦♦♦ NEOS Android PC
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and was able to watch Netflix for 2 hours and 20 minutes until the battery was totally exhausted. The battery remained cool through out. This is enough power to watch a movie or a few episodes. Useful!

♦♦♦ Running a large fan
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and it kept the fan working for 5 hours. In 1.5 hours it was down to 3 dots, in 3 hours it was down to 2 dots, in 4.5 hours it had a flashing 1 dot indicating it was running out of power. Excellent. I am ready for the next hot weather power outage!

♦♦♦ LED desk lamp
I started with HIS Gear UP fully charged and was the lamp stayed lit for 5 hours 10 minutes. After 3 hr it was at 2 dots, at 4 hours and 20 minutes at 1 dot. 4 hours 45 minutes it 1 dot was flashing indicating it was almost out of power. Excellent. I use this frequently.

USB ports
~~~~~~~~~~
In addition to the AC outlet this power bank has a regular USB port. I measured its performance with a current monitor and even though it provides rate higher than USB rate it performs below average compared to a dedicated USB only external batteries. It does not provide charge through (i.e. it cannot charge when the battery itself is being charged).

♦♦♦ Galaxy Nexus phone:
0.73A / 5.04V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

I mostly use Gear UP at home getting power to spots without needing an extension cord. This power bank fits my needs very well, especially for lights and fans because this battery lasts a long time. Being able to run a large fan during a power outage is going to make a big difference in comfort.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Product review: GROSCHE Boston Premium French Press Coffee and Tea Maker

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We have been using a French Press on regular basis for many years. I have a small French Press at work and a large one at home. We like using French Press because it produces a full bodied coffee flavor and it gives us control on how strong the coffee is. My husband likes it stronger than me and it is easy to make different strength by varying how long I wait before pouring.

Grosche French press feels well made. It has mostly stainless steel construction, only the underside of the cap and the handle are made out of black plastic. The mesh is very fine and leaves no sediment.

The capacity of this beaker is 4 cups (4 cups fills it to the top of the chrome band). This French Press is 9" tall from the bottom to the top of the cap handle, the glass beaker itself is 7" tall. It is dishwasher safe.

This is a nice looking French Press and operates smoothly.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, February 16, 2015

Product review: Sabrent FAN-NTP3 Business Notebook Cooler Pad

video

Number of fans:____ 3
Air flow:__________ One speed, low air flow
Cord:______________ non-detachable USB cord
On/Off switch:_____ yes
Size:______________ width 11.85" x front to back 10"W x height 1.125" to 0.5"
Noise:_____________ VERY quiet
Color:_____________ black
Feet:______________ Has plastic feet (pad itself is metal)
Stand:_____________ non-adjustable, single height, slightly angled
Flaws observed:___ None so far
USB ports:________ no USB ports on the cooling station, it has a USB cord to plug into a computer
Packaging:________ no manual, documentation is on the box

This is a relatively small cooling station, it is extremely quiet. It gets it power from the computer it is cooling and requires it to have an empty USB slot.

I have an older Acus netbook that began overheating (I suspect the internal fan failure). Without a cooling pad I was not able to finish an OS upgrade (it shut down due to overheating), putting it on the Sabrent cooling pad allowed me to complete the upgrade.

I measured the CPU temperature when the system was idle as well as under a large load.

On idle the Sabrent cooling reduced the CPU temperatures by 5C.

Without Sabrent cooling pad (idle system):
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Core 0: +75.0°C
Core 1: +73.0°C

With Sabrent cooling pad (idle system):
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Core 0: +70.0°C
Core 1: +68.0°C

I ran system diagnostics to generate a heavy load. Without Sabrent cooling pad it was able to run the diagnostics for 36 minutes before it reached a critical temperature (> 100C) and shut itself down. With the Sabrent cooling pad it was able to run the entire diagnostic set (3 hours) reaching the following maximum temperatures:

Motherboard: 99C
CORE 0: 98C
CORE 1: 96C

Sabrent cooling pad certainly made a difference for this old netbook and I am able to keep it going even though at these high temperatures I suspect it is not going to last very long. It is best when computer CPU core temperature is under 50°C, if it is the in 60°C or higher it shortens the life expectancy of the computer components.

The cooling pad should be blowing towards the device you are trying to cool. How well it cools depends not only on the cooling pad but on how many ventilation holes each device has on the bottom. In addition ventilation holes on the computer tend to fill up with dust. If you are not getting good results with a cooling pad try vacuuming the ventilation holes.

So far I had no issues, the fans are operating quietly. Attached video shows the cooling pad in operation, I hope it helps to illustrate my review.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Product review: Simon & Tom Premium Fungal Nail Treatment

The Amazon description says that you should see improvement in 2 to 4 weeks. This is an optimistic estimate and it takes majority of people a much longer period to treat nail fungus (this is what my podiatrist told me when I saw him for nail fungus problem). I writing this review after using the preparation for 2 months (I started on 9/10/14 and today is 12/10/14). I do not see any improvement.

Prior to Simon and Tom I have been treating my nails with Formula 3. Formula 3 gave me some noticeable improvement, but have not returned the nails to a totally normal look. Formula 3's active ingredient is Tolnaflate 1%. Simon & Tom has a totally different list of ingredients (complete list below) and I was eager to see how it works. Unfortenately, it does not work as well and I am going back to Formula 3.

Simon & Tom Premium Fungal Nail Treatment comes in a small bottle (0.34 oz) with a dropper and a separate brush applicator. The applicator is not built into the cap like Formula 3, but is separate, so it is a little difficult store between applications because it is wet and oily. I have been taping to the bottle with a piece of scotch tape.

Ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Tea tree (melaleuca attemifolia) oil, Cloveleaf (Eugenia caryophylius) oil, Cellulose Gum, Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) oil, Pomegranate (Punica Granatum) Extract, Argania Spinosa Oil,
Methylchloroisothiazolinone & Methylisothiazolinone, Parfum (Orange Flowers) Coumarin, Eugenol Isoeugenol, Citronellol Dipentene, Linalool Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Butylphenyl Methylpropional

This fungal nail treatment is provided by Simon&Tom. Unfortunately, it did not work for me.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★☆☆☆☆

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Product review: PetsN'all Chickadee, Finch, Small Bird Window Bird Feeder

video

What fun to see the birds so up close! Surprisingly, it took birds a week to find the bird feeder. We put up two bird feeders on Sunday and for a week had no birds in them even though there were lots of birds in the back yard. Then my husband spread some seeds under the bird feeders on the ground and then a day later there were lots of birds visiting the bird feeders. I think the seeds on the ground helped them find them. We put up two bird feeders each with different seeds and the birds are flying from one to another like a bird seed buffet.  Notice how in the video one bird comes in as soon as the other one leaves, it is as if they were waiting in a queue. This happens all the time.

This bird feeder is 7.25" wide, 5.5" tall, and 3.5" front to back. It is totally open on three sides, and has an oval opening on the side that is towards the window. I like that it has two rails so the birds can sit on the rails while eating or just looking around. The tray has two compartments. Perhaps one of them is meant for water, but since it is winter time and we get a lot of sub zero temperatures I am using both compartments for bird seed.

The bird feeder is held by two suction cups. They provide sufficient suction power to hold the feeder, the seeds, and the birds. The installation instruction recommend cleaning the window and rubbing the suction cups with your fingers to deposit some oil on the cups for a better hold. So far so good.

Update:
Someone asked me if the seeds get wet. I tested them after a rain - yes, they were damp. But the birds seem not to mind.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Product review: PetsN'all Clear Window Bird Feeder

video

What fun to see the birds so up close! Surprisingly, it took birds a week to find the birdfeeder. We put up two bird feeders on Sunday and for a week had no birds in them even though there were lots of birds in the back yard. Then my husband spread some seeds under the bird feeders on the ground and then a day later there were lots of birds visiting the bird feeders. I think the seeds on the ground helped them find them. We put up two bird feeders each with different seeds and the birds are flying from one to another like a bird seed buffet.

This bird feeder 7.5" tall measuring to the peak of the roof, 4" tall measuring to the roof line, 7" wide and 6" front to back. It is totally open on two sides (not counting the ledge for the seed tray).

The bird feeder is held by three suction cups. They provide sufficient suction power to hold the feeder, the seeds, and the birds. The installation instruction recommend cleaning the window and rubbing the suction cups with your fingers to deposit some oil on the cups for a better hold. So far so good.

The reason I am not rating this bird feeder 5 stars that it arrived with a small crack in the corner.

Ali Julia review

Update:
We noticed that one of the bird feeders is more popular than the other. The more popular bird feeder (not this one) has green plastic perches along the edges and we noticed that birds often sit on them. When the birds visited this bird feeder they always landed inside the bird feeder never on the edge. So we decided to add a perch made out of a twig. We put it along the front edge of the bird feeder and attached it with strips of duck tape. I updated the video to show what happened. This bird feeder immediately became just as popular as the other one. Not sure if helps them see the edge better or just added a comfortable place to land... but they like it!

Update:
Someone asked me if the seeds get wet. I tested them after a rain - yes, they were damp. But the birds seem not to mind.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Product review: JENNIE LIU Women's 100% Cashmere Button Front

video

Shopping for clothing on-line does not always work because some manufacturer size charts don't match the garments exactly right. However, this is not the case the with Jennie Liu. My sweater matches the chart and it is a good fit.

I got purple color and it is a beautiful vibrant color. The design is very simple and clean, I wear it with a lot of things.

I ordered XL which supposed to be 43" at the chest. It is exactly the same width at the bottom of the sweater as at the chest and it drapes well. The length of the sweater is 23" (measured in the front from the neck lines to the bottom). The sleeves are 26.25" measured from the shoulder seam to the edge of the sleeve, they have a ribbed cuff. The sleeve are a little long for me, but I fold them back and they look fine.

I love the way this sweater feels, it is very to touch. It is 100% cashmere and it feels as nice as as you would expect a cashmere sweater to feel. This is a fairly light sweater, perfect either for laying or to wear on its own.

Note that I also got a Jennie Liu's purple and blue plaid scarf where the scarve's shade of purple is a good match with this sweater and they look quite nice together.

Cleaning instructions: dry clean.

Overall, I am very pleased with the sweater. Good fit and it looks beautiful.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, February 6, 2015

Product review: JENNIE LIU 68" X 12" 100% Cashmere Scarf

video

I got the "Purple and Blue Plaid" version of the this scarf. It is a beautiful color combination. The scarf looks the same on both sides (i.e. it is a woven design, rather than a printed design). It feels very soft and warm, just as one would expect a 100% cashmere scarf to feel.

The scarf is 63" long (not counting the fringe) and 12" wide. The fringe is 4".

I also got Jennie Liu's purple cardigan. The purple shade of the sweater matches the purple in this scarf very well. The sweater and the scarf look very nice together.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Product review: VonHaus 600W 2-in-1 Upright Stick & Handheld Vacuum Cleaner

video


What surprised me about this vacuum is that it weighs just under 3 pounds! This vacuum can be used either as a hand-held or as an upright. It has a 240" (20 feet) AC cord. It has a pretty good suction, but no moving brushes. It works best on hardwood and tile. It also works on rugs with a shot nap, but not a long nap. For example, it cleans my silk rugs very well but not the wool rugs which might have little threads or hairs tangled in the fibers.

The vacuum has a telescoping handle. When the handle is extended to the max the top of the handle is 48" high from the floor. The vacuum has a HEPA filter and it is washable. The manufacturer recommends washing it twice a year. The replacement filters can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OHUQYNQ.

I love how light this vacuum is and how easy it is to use.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, February 2, 2015

Product review: Tronsmart Draco AW80 Android TV

video

As a background for my review I reviewed the previous version of Tronsmart (Vega S89) rating it 3 star ok "Capable device which needs a little more refinement". I am happy to report that the new version made those refinements and I am quite pleased with it.

✅ Set up was very easy. All I had to do is plug in power and connect HDMI cable to my TV. When I selected HDMI output on my TV display it was operational. All I had to do is turn on WI FI and connect.

✅ Tronsmart Draco 6.5"W x 6.5"L x 1.125"H in size.

✅ The screen display is 1080P and it rendered beautifully on my TV.

✅ Tronsmart Draco is running 4.4.2 (KitKat) Android operating system. I have tried a large number of apps that I normally use and have not found any that did not work.
Some of the applications I have tried YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, TuneInRadio, SpeedTest, AccuWeather, Browser, Play Store. All operated smoothly and quickly, I did not run into any problems. My video includes a couple of snippets from different apps such as YouTube, Netflix, and Pandora.

✅ Tronsmart Draco has Ethernet connection built into the unit. I tested both WI FI and Ethernet (the TV is in the room without direct Ethernet connection and I am using Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter Kit). Both worked well.

✅ I ran OOKLA load test to test network speed and it showed impressive performance. The speeds I get in the TV room are as good as I get with my phone when measured in the same room (this room is on a different floor from the main router). By comparison, Vega Tronsmart did significantly worse compared to my phone. So this functionality was greatly improved in this version.

Speedtest using WI FI connection:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tronsmart Draco download: 33.01 mbs
Tronsmart Draco upload: 28.75 mbs

For comparison my phone in the same gets similar speeds.

Nexus phone download speed: 35.68 mbs
Nexus phone upload speed: 29.94 mbs

✅ Tronsmart Draco provides straight Android interface, no custom shell layer. This is what I prefer. One of the thing I did not like in the Tronsmart Vega was its custom UI which took extra effort to remove (a firmware update which allowed to change the custom UI to the standard Google UI).

Is Draco perfect? No. I have a couple of quips.

❌ I found the joystick style remote that came with the Tronsmart Draco cumbersome to use. To enter anything on a keyboard you had to use it as joystick and scroll through the keyboard like a grid. Selecting items on the screen was difficult, more difficult in some application than others. After 10 or 15 minutes of frustrated usage, I switched to an air mouse (my own) which includes a full keyboard on side and a mouse pointer which you can use by pointing at the TV screen. I also tested that a regular keyboard/mouse and that combo work well also. Tronsmart Draco has two USB ports built into it, I am using one of them for my air mouse. This unit really should ship with an air mouse, I can't see any user having a good experience with a joystick control if they are used to a touch screen on their phone or tablet. This is a major quip.

❌ No on/off button on a device. To power it off I need to remove the power cord. Not something I have to do often, but any computer occasionally gets wedged and needs to be recycled now and then. This is a minor quip.

So what is the bottom line? This is a very capable device. After replacing the joystick remote with my own air mouse I am very pleased with it and it has been working flawlessly for several weeks of daily use.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★