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Monday, March 30, 2015

Product review: HeadRig 1 - Universal smartphone head mount for Hands Free Video Capturing


I do a lot of "how to" and review videos so I was excited to test this HeadRig to see if it can replace my current set up with a table top tripod. It worked but not as well as I hoped. Here are my observations

1. The best videos are steady without any shake. To keep the video totally steady in a head harness is difficult.

2. For a good video the subject should be centered in the frame or at least not cut off. The issue with the harness is that it is hard to see the screen even though I positioned it as low as possible so I can peek at the screen of the smart phone which is facing me.

3. Operating the camera video app is difficult as the rig itself covers up important parts of the screen.

On the positive side, the rig holds the phone very security. I was able to accommodate my phone which is 5 7/8" long. The size of my phone is about the maximum size the harness could fit. I had to remove one of the balls on the ends otherwise it did not open enough. The HeadRig can accommodate a phone 1/4" larger (with both balls removed) more but not any larger.

Because I extended the phone as far as possible and as low as possible from my head (so I can see as much of the screen as possible for better framing) the harness felt rather top heavy and I had to tighten the harness on my head very tightly otherwise it slid forward.

So what is the bottom line? It certainly was easier to do the demos when I did not have a tripod in front of me, but the final video with the tripod was better because it had zero shake and I could frame the shot better. In addition to the shake and framing the quality of the videos taken by the phone is not as good as one taken with a dedicated camera. In my videos taken with the harness I could see the focus go in and out.

I received this head harness with a request for an evaluation and an honest review. I described pluses and minuses of my experience. At the end of my video review you can see a video I shot with the harness for another one of my reviews, I decided not to use that video because of the shake and the focus going in and out as my head moved slightly.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Product review: Que Products 5.5 Unlocked Android Smartphone - budget phone


This a fairly nice phone. Its strongest points are bright display, decent battery life, and that it comes with a standard Google interface. There is no custom shell or invasive bolted-in apps that can't be uninstalled as I have seen in other phones that are originally aimed at Chinese market.

The weakest points are a small amount of memory (only 2.4G available for app installs), weak speaker, and that it is aimed at Chinese market (and what I mean my that is that some portion of the UI are not translated). The first time I turned on the phone it display something in Chinese and would not start up. As I pushed on various buttons it displayed more messages in Chinese. After I removed the cover and the battery, put it back together again then the phone booted up normally.

This phone and its battery are shipped separately. So the first thing you will need to do is to remove the back cover and insert the battery. The phone does not have a paper version of the manual, the manual is installed on the phone itself. However, if you wanted to consult the manual to see how to remove the cover you are not able to consult the manual which is installed on the phone. Most of my phones have a back cover that slides open. For this phone I had to flick the cover off starting in one of the corners. When I eventually was able to consult the manual it did not show how to remove the cover, so my method may not be the best way to remove the cover but it worked for me.

Que smart phone has a nice form factor it is 6" x 3.125" x 1/4" and weighs 6.7 oz. The phone is running Android 4.4.2 operating system.

I installed a large number of my favorite apps and all of them loaded and ran without a problem. They felt speedy, the touch screen is very responsive, the text is crisp and easy to read. I was able to pair a bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth speakers without any problems.

To test its WI FI capabilities I run OOKLA speed test and the results were not as good as Nexus 5 but not bad. I got an average of 36 Mbps upload and 13.5 Mbps download. For comparison, my best results with another phone done at the same time are download 47.05 Mbps and upload is 37.84 Mbps (placing both devices at the same distance from the wireless router).

Using the SIM card the speed was significantly slower because this is a 3G phone (not 4G). I ran OOKLA Speedtest at a few locations and it showed 2.62 Mpbs download and 0.86 Mpbs upload. By comparison Nexus 5 with 4G service was getting 39 pbs download and 13 Mpbs upload. So what does this difference means in practical terms? It means all apps work, just the response time is slower.

The speaker on this phone is acceptable not great. When I spoke on the phone, I was told I sound clear, the sound on my end was clear but sounded slightly tinny and I could not make it very loud.

The camera on this phone is ok. It best under good conditions when it was light, but not too bright. When it was very bright it overexposed, when it was dark it was a bit grainy. Attached video include some photos and video taken by the phone.

Overall, this is a phone pretty nice phone. It scores well on the two key features: easy to read bright display and battery life. Some of the cons I listed in this review are preventing me from giving it 5 stars but it is a good buy for the money.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Product review: Self Healing Rotary Cutting Mat by Calibre Art


I am a quilter so I have a number of rotary cutting mats in various sizes, I can't imagine quilting without my rotary mats and my rotary cutter. Most of my mats are self-healing Olfa mats. They have a life span of about 4-5 years of frequent use. Eventually they lose the self-healing properties. CalibreArt Mats are noticeably thicker than any of my other mats. In my video I show one of my Olfa mats next to CalibreArt Mat so you can see the difference.

My Olfa mats have markings on one side and are plain green on the other side. CalibreArt Mats have inch markings on one side and centimeter markings on the other side. Even though centimeter are not useful for me to quilting, they are useful when I just need to lay fabric on a straight line. I find double sided mat more useful than having a totally unlined side like Olfa mats.

One of Olfa mats does not lay flat, it has a bit of a wave which presses down when I cut. CalibreArt mat is much thicker and heavier, it lays totally flat. Calibre mat's thickness (measured with a digital calliper) is 0.115". Olfa mat's thickness is 0.062".

I got the large size (24" x 36") it covers almost my entire sewing table and it really makes cutting easier, I do not have to reposition and move the fabric. This is a very nice mat!

Can anything be improved? Yes. My Olfa mats show the measurements on all 4 sides of the mat. CalibreArt mat shows numbers only on the left and bottom. Sometimes the fabric covers the bottom and left side and it is harder the tell the measurements. It is a minor nit but I am including it in hope that the manufacturer is reading reviews and might make this great mat even better in the future.

Update 2/28/15: Manufacturer contacted to let me know that they will add additional measurement markers for these mats. Nice to hear when manufacturer is so responsive to customer suggestions.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Product review: Hame H16 11000mah Ultra Compact External Battery Portable USB Charger Power Bank


♦ size: 3 5/8" x 2 1/8" x 1 1/4"
♦ weight: 9.7 oz
♦ number of ports: 1
♦ flashlight: no
♦ pass through charging: yes (i.e. the battery can charge while being charged itself)
♦ cable: 11" charging cable
♦ comes with a silicone sleeve

This battery has a fairly large capacity (11000 mAh) in a relatively compact size. It has one charging port. For a battery with 11000 mAh capacity I really prefer to have two or more ports because I always have more than once device that needs to charged, and its capacity certainly would allow for more than one device to be charged.

To see how well different chargers and external batteries charge my mobile devices I use a Nexus phone and an iPadMini tablet 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.

This battery worked with both of my devices, but charged both of them below average speed. At the end of the review I include th exact measurements for those who are interested in the nitty gritty numbers.

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). This battery does support charger through charging. It can charge while being charged.

In addition to testing with my own cable (to keep everything the same during tests), I also test the cable included in the package to see if it is a charging cable or a data cable. This package includes a charging cable. 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.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.89/4.99V (below average)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
0.92A/5.01V (average for 1A port)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

Overall, this is not the speediest battery but it has a fairly compact shape for its capacity. When size matters more than speed of charging this battery is a reasonable choice.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Product review: Pawtec Retractable Micro USB 2.0 A Male to Micro B Cable High-Speed Charge and Sync cable


I have seen a number of cables that claim to be charging and data sync cables but they charge devices only at a slower USB rate. This is not the case with this retractable charge and sync cable. It charges my Android phone at the optimal rate and it is capable of data sync of the phone with my PC. I got both the white and the black version of this cable and both showed the same excellent results when tested with the USB current monitor. Consistent performance between different units is a sign of good quality.

Many cables are made using a thinner wire (28/28 gauge), this cable uses a thicker 28/24 gauge. 28/24 gauge is 60% thicker than 24/24 gauge and can deliver more current to the device. A thicker cable is also less like to break and last longer at the connector, where general use stresses the wire by compressing it.

The re tractability of the cord is handy especially for my MP3 player with external speaker which I have permanently plugged into a power bank. This cord helped me got rid of the dangling wire. When the cord is extended to its back it is 36" long. To retract it from that position you need to yank on both end to trigger the retracting mechanism.

Current monitor results:
black cord: 1.02A / 5.05V (excellent)
white cord: 1.02A / 5.09V (excellent)
(for comparison this is on par with the best charging monitor result for this phone 1.00A/5V)

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, March 20, 2015

Product review: E-PRANCE® D101 FHD 1080P Video DashCam


I own a couple of dash cams and each one of them prior to this one had something that did like: a permanent mount, did not record well in the dark, non-micro USB charging cable... E-prance seem to have made the right decisions in each of these areas:

1) video quality - good during the day day and during the night
2) mount - should not require a permanent mount
3) non propriety cables - micro or mini USB
4) wide angle lens
5) have LED display so I can tell that the cam is aimed correctly

E-Prance is compact. It size is 3 3/8" x 2". It has a wide angle lens (170 degrees). It record video, GPS, and audio. It has an auto turn on/auto turn off feature. It turns on as soon as it gets power so you don't have to remember to turn it on. It can be turned off manually if desired. It is powered by a regular mini USB cable, so even though it is designed for a car if you want a general purposes recorder that records to a micro sd it can do that job as well. This video recorder has many options: video quality, recording in a loop or stopping when disk is full, recording all the time or only when motion is detected, and so forth. The camera records full HD 1080p video, the quality of the video is excellent.

In attached video I show video of E-Prance as well as the video recorded by E-Prance.

The E-Prance package includes the camera, 135" inch power cord that plugs into the car cigarette lighter output, and a mini USB cable. The maximum size of the micro SD card supported by the camera is 32G.

The camera has a suction mount. I greatly prefer a suction mount to permanent mounting. It can be moved between our two cars, plus if the car has to be left parked in a bad area the mount can be removed so it is not obvious that the car has interesting electronics in it.

The user interface is straightforward and even though the manual does not contain details for each button and each option, it contains a picture where each button's function is labelled. I found the manual sufficient to configure my video cam. All defaults were very reasonable.

Overall, I was impressed with the camera and the video it captured, even night time video shows everything clearly.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Product reveiw: Ready SIM Talk+Text+Data 7 Day: Unlimited Talk+Text + 500MB Data 4G


When we have visitors from outside US I get them a Ready Sim card. I like this specific card because it includes both data and talk/text.

The setup is very simple. I get the card in advance as it starts the count only when the card is activated. When the guests arrive I insert the SIM card into the phone, send a text message to Ready SIM which contains our zip code. A few minutes later two text responses arrive. One contains the phone number, another the expiration date. The documentation states that the phone number will be local to our location, but that is not always the case. Sometimes I get a number with an area code in another state. This has not been a problem for me, but I wanted to mention it in case it is important to someone else. The carrier I get is T-mobile which is a carrier with least extensive network so the coverage is be spotty at times.

INSTALLATION:

1. I inserted Ready SIM into the phone and turned in on.
2. When I turned on the phone I received a prompt that a new SIM card was recognized
3. I sent a text message to the Ready SIM shortcode 7850. The message body contained just my zip code.
4. Ready SIM sent back a phone number plus the expiration date of the service. The response took several minutes to arrive.
5. My data plan was automatically turned on. I was able to turn off WI FI and browse the internet without additional setup steps.

The fact that my data service was automatically turned on was a pleasant surprise. In the Ready SIM FAQ I read that some phones require a manual step to turn on data service. Some phones need to create a new Access Point Name (APN), which is located under Settings-Mobile Networks-Menu-New APN. Ready SIM documentation include the info for the new APN:
Name: "Ready SIM"
APN: "wholesale"
APN type: Internet+MMS

Overall, Ready Sim is a good solution when I have a short term need for phone and data service.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, March 16, 2015

Product reviews: HandAcc Flashlight Torch Light


This is a very bright flashlight which can double as bike light. The package includes a flashlight and a bike mount. It runs either on three AAA batteries or on one 18650 battery.

I started using this flashlight with AAA batteries and I really liked the brightness of this light (rated at 500 lumens) and the fact that it has an adjustable focus area. I also liked that it is waterproof.

Then I decided then to switch to 18650 battery so I could compare how it functions with the large battery in this review. To use the battery with 18650 you need to remove the cartridge that holds AAA batteries and insert 18650 directly into the body of the flashlight. This is where the things went wrong. The spring that creates contact with the cap broke off and the flashlight no longer works. The spring was held together by bead of solder and the connection was so weak that the act of taking the cap off and on twice broke it.

I thought it was a nice bright light until it broke. Workmanship of my flashlight was not good.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆



Saturday, March 14, 2015

Product review: D-Link Wireless Day/Night WiFi Network Surveillance Camera


We purchased a number of IP camera in the last few years to watch over an older relative who has a tendency to fall and not press her emergency alert button. Given my experience with a large number of cameras I thought this video camera is ok - it works but did not quite measure up in several areas to our other ip cameras.

1. The camera does not have a very wide angle and cannot be controlled to turn using the camera app as our most useful IP camera. The camera has a very flexible mount so you can position it in many different ways but once it is mounted this is what you, you cannot change the angle, you cannot zoom, you cannot zoom out. For comparison, Annke IP camera allows the greatest flexibility for turning the camera around from the phone app.

2. The app frequently loses contact with camera and the contact needs to be re-estblished. I am using the mydlink lite app, the free app that came with the camera. The camera can also be access through a browser, but I find the phone more convenient as I am not always near a computer when I need to check the camera feed.

3. The microphone is not very good. You can hear the sound but not very clearly. If you are near the camera the your phone gets a lot of feedback. I have not encountered this with any of the other cameras.

4. The camera has three modes: day mode, night mode, or auto. When I set the mode to auto it goes into the night mode when it is fairly light outside. The night mode is infra-red and the resulting image is black and white and not as clear as the day time color image.

5. Power cord connector has a propriety connector. I prefer a USB cord so if needed I can use a longer cord of my own.

The setup of the camera was very easy. The camera can be set up using WI FI or Ethernet. The camera can be free standing or mounted on the wall.

In attached video you see the camera recording the action and seeing what is happening on my phone. As you see the phone shows the action with a slight delay because the video goes to D-link cloud and then back the phone for display.

I received this video camera for testing and unbiased review. I tried to cover the pluses and minuses of the camera and if there are aspects I did not cover leave me a comment and I will do my best to answer it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Product review: URPOWER Stand [Multi-Angle Design] for smart phones and tablets


I tested this stand with my two tablets iPad Mini and Galaxy 7.7 Tablet. They both fit nicely in the horizontal and the vertical orientations. I tested iPad Mini "naked" and Galaxy 7.7 Tab in a leather folio. The tablet with the folio fits if I let the back cover dangle behind the stand (not in the slot).

The stand feel solid is is heavier than I expected by looking at it. It weighs 6.0oz. The stand is made out of aluminium and can hold loads up to 11 pounds according to the manual. It is nice to see that they built it much more heavy duty than needed! It is 3.5 inches tall. The groove is 0.375" wide and 0.5" tall.

The easel in the back can either lock flat against the stand or be expanded by pressing a button on the hinge of the stand. It is a nifty design that keeps the easel in place in both positions without wobbling. The stand is very compact and very study. I liked how both of my tablets felt while they were in the stand. I can type on the touch screen without the tablet coming out of the stand.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Product reviews: VonShef Premium Vacuum Food Saver and Sealer System


The tricky part of using this vacuum sealer is closing the cover. It took me several tries until I got the sealer to work initially. The trick is to make sure you hear a click on every side as you close the top cover. If it does not click twice (once on each side) it will not be able to suck out the air. The first few times it took quite a bit of effort to push down until I heard the click, but it got easier as I got the initial stiffness out of the foam insulation.

The machine automatically vacuums, seals, and then stops. As you see in the video it is fairly fast. If it makes noise without removing air, it means you did not close the lid completely.

The plastic bag can be opened and resealed if you leave a little extra room at the top of the bag.

I have to admit that after the first attempt I thought closing the lid was too hard to use the machine frequently, but after the third bag it really was not bad. So don't give after the first attempt, when the foam around the edge of the device gets squished down it works. Once I got a hang of how to close the lid, the sealer has been working well without fail.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Product review: Annke SPI Wireless 720P HD Wi-Fi IP Camera


We have bought a number of IP camera in the last few years to watch over an older relative who had a tendency to fall and not press her emergency alert button. I have to say that this camera is better than the ones we have used in the past. I thought Annke is a nice camera and I really liked the app that controls it. The app allows me to pan the camera by swiping my finger across the screen, I can zoom in and zoom out by pinching and spreading my fingers. I have been using it extensively for several weeks and have not experienced any crashes or technical issues. The video is very good during the day and not bad during the night. If there was anything I would change about this camera is I would have liked it to have a slightly wider angle, however because I can pan the camera this is not a big deal.

The setup was very easy . All I had to do was install the app (called MIPC), connect via Ethernet for the initial set up, and create an account. Once this was done I could connect the camera either via Ethernet or WI FI.

The quality of the video is quite good as you see in attached video. I already mentioned that I like the app that controls the camera. It has a lot of nice options and is easy to use. I tried this camera as a surveillance camera looking out of the window. To make it work through the window during the night I had to turn off its infrared mode (otherwise the infrared reflects from the window back into the camera in the form of light). To turn off the infrared option I had to switch the mode from Auto (which switches between day and night) to Day.

The camera can be used free standing or be mounted on the wall with a bracket that is included in the package. The bracket can also be used as a stand if you want to tilt the camera down (say on a window sill to have the camera point to the front door from the second floor of the house).

The camera can record to a micro SD card (max card size is 32G).

The camera has several recording modes. You can schedule recordings to occur between certain hours. This is handy if, for example, you need to fit more video on the micro SD card.

Alternatively, you can have the camera start when it detects motion. There is a setting which allows you to control "motion detection sensitivity". You can use it to tune the camera not to start recording when wind moves the leaves on trees yet record when someone comes to the door.

I have been using the camera for several weeks and so far I am quite impressed with it and had no problems. I am especially pleased with how I can control the camera using the app.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, March 6, 2015

Product review: Sentey Power Bank Brio LUX 20800mAh LS-2185 LG 18650 Li-ion Battery


♦ size: 6 3/8" x 3 1/4" x 7/8"
♦ weight: 15.15 oz
♦ number of ports: 2
♦ flashlight: yes
♦ pass through charging: no (i.e. the battery can charge while being charged itself)
♦ cable: 7.5" charging cable

This external battery is very compact for its large capacity of 20800 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 really like its charge level indicator, it is shown in LED window as a percentage rather than just lights.

This charger performed very well with my Android phone. It worked with my iPad Mini but my current monitor showed that one neither of the ports drew more than 1A. 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). This battery does NOT support charger through chargng. It can not charge while being charged.

In addition to testing with my own cable, I test the cable included in the package to see if it is a charging cable or a data cable. This package includes a charging cable. 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.

The battery also has a small flashlight. It is not very bright but could be useful in an emergency. My video include a demo of the flashlight so you can see it yourself.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port: 1.01/4.99V (excellent)
2A port: 1.02/5.01V (excellent)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1A port: 0.92A/5.01V (average for 1A port)
2A port: 0.92A/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. As far as capacity some of the battery capacity is always lost to heat, voltage conversion, and operation of the power bank itself. I always estimate that 30% of the capacity will not be available for the charging of the device.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Product review: OLALA C2-a 6000mAh Fast Charging Portable Power Bank with Built-in Micro USB Cable


This is a compact battery with good capacity and a good charging speed (test results are included at the end of the review) and it has a short built in cable. This is a type of battery I like carrying in my purse: slim size and fairly big capacity.

♦ size: 5" x 2.5" x 0.5"
♦ weight: 4.85 oz
♦ number of ports: 2 (one vis built-in cable, one generic)
♦ flashlight: no
♦ pass through charging: yes (i.e. the battery can charge while being charged itself)
♦ cable: 11" charging cable

The power pack has a bright charging level indicator which can be turned on with a push and goes off quickly.

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.

In these tests OLALA battery did quite well for both devices, especially the phone. For the phone both the built-in cable and included charging cable showed optimal performance.

I 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.

I also checked whether the enclosed cable is a data cable or a charging cable. This makes a big difference when charging Android devices. 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 - OLALA package includes a charging cable.

Samsung Nexus phone:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
charging cable : 1.03A/5.01V (excellent)
built-in cable: 8% upcharge in 10 minutes (excellent)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
my own cable: 1.25A/5.06V (good)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

To summarize: compact, fast charging, good capacity. I like it!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Product review: Cozyna Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Thermos



Cozyna insulated stainless steel bottle (referred to as a mug in the title) has a insulated stainless steel body and a plastic cap. The plastic cap is not a sports cap, but a spout opening which I find easy to drink from (see video). The cap forms a good seal and is leak proof.

This is a thermos bottle. Its construction is two stainless steel walls with a vacuum between them. This construction is similar to the old glass Thermos bottles with steel replacing the glass. The thermal conductivity of glass is lower than steel so the glass thermos keeps the temperature better, but stainless steel is unbreakable.

To answer the question how well Cozyna thermos keeps the temperature I filled it with hot water, and measured the temperature several times over 14 hours with a temperature probe.

★ start ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 187 degrees
★ 2 h 35 mins later ~~~~ 158 degrees
★ 6 h later ~~~~~~~~~~~~ 136 degrees
★ 14.5 hours later ~~~~~ 106 degrees

Cozyna thermos holds the temperature well, on par with my favorite old thermos.

The bottle holds 16 oz of water. The bottle's base is 2.25" across at the base. This bottle fits into the bottle holder of my car. The bottle is 9.5" tall (from the base to the top of the cap).

The instructions say that this bottle should NOT be washed in the dishwasher.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, March 2, 2015

Product review: Smart 8-Outlet with 4-USB Output Surge Protection Power Strip Tower shape


This outlet tower fits perfectly behind my TV. I don't have a lot of room there and need a lot of outlets - both AC and USB powered - and this tower is perfect in that space. The top of the power has two buttons which turn on/off half of the outlets. The AC outlets are well spaced out. I am able to mount two large chargers next to each (see video), no outlets are blocked! This is a very clever design.

The strip has a 6.5 foot cord and a regular size plug.

In addition to 8 AC outlets this tower also has 4 USB outlets. I tested each USB port with a current monitor an Android device and an Apple device. I saw that it charged my Android phone at an optimal rate on each outlet. iPadMini perfromed well at at optimal rate on one port (2A). Performance on 2 others were typical for 1A port but not optimal for iPadMini, and one port delivered only USB level of performance.

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.

Samsung Nexus phone:
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1 port: 1.02A/4.99V (excellent)
2 port: 1.00A/5.01V (excellent)
3 port: 0.99A/4.99V (excellent)
4 port: 0.98A/5.01V (excellent)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)

iPad Mini tablet:
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1 port: 0.93A/5.02V (average for 1A)
2 port: 0.47A/4.99V (not good, USB rate)
3 port: 1.24A/5.02V (good)
4 port: 0.93A/5.01V (average for 1A)
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)

I love the shape of this power strip, it gave me more than enough outlets in the area which barely has any space.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★