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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Product review: Arlo Smart Home Security Camera System

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There are things about this camera that I absolutely love and then there are things that I did not like however after over 2 weeks of continuous use I found a way to work around them.

I own a number of IP cameras (they helps us take care of an older relative) and I can say without hesitation that the video quality of this camera is better than all the others I have tried. Perhaps because of this really high quality of the video the response on the mobile device is quite slow. However, I found the performance using Arlo web site is much better and now I only use the mobile app when I have no access to my desktop. The second aspect of the camera that is excellent is the mount. I was able to mount the mount with adhesive tape outside. The camera attaches to the mount magnetically, so it is easy to point where I want it to point and is easy to remove it to change batteries. Speaking of batteries, the camera has been running slightly over 2 weeks on the same set of batteries and I have not had to change it so far. I will post an update when it runs out of juice. I love not having wires and the camera has no problem communicating with the control station (basically a router) which is in the computer room on the floor above where the camera is mounted. The router is in the middle of the room not next to the window.

I like
~~~~~~
1. The video quality is excellent. Very crisp, good color, high resolution. It can also capture good quality audio.
2. The set up was easy and the manual is well written
3. The package includes two cameras. The cameras look really slick, and the entire package looks and feels "high end"
4. Totally wire free (no power cable as it runs on batteries and it is WIFI). Each camera runs on four RCR123A. I purchased rechargeable batteries so I don't have to feed the camera new batteries. So far it has been 15 days and it is still running on the first set of batteries.
5. A magnetic mount which makes it easy to remove the camera to change the batteries or position the camera like you want it. I mounted the magnet mount with sticky tape as I placed it hanging down above the back door so I can see who is coming to the door.
6. I can see the video from the mobile device and from the Arlo web site
7. Good security. Requires a complicated password, uses a security question, the UI leads to set the password right away. Clearly these folks understand and care about security. I have encountered IP cameras that only allowed numbers in the password or only alphabetic characters. No such red flags here!

I did not like
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1. There is a significant delay between the action and what the camera shows. See video where I show both the action and the mobile screen to demonstrate this.
2. The mobile app screen often display "buffering" and "please wait". The web site response has some delays but not significant.
3. There is no choice to change the resolution of the camera. I would be willing to give up some of the resolution if it would improve response time. I found only one reference to video quality. On Arlo web site, under camera settings, and power management I was able to change from "balance between video quality and battery life" to "best battery life" which in parenthesis told me it may reduce video quality. I still see "buffering" message and the video quality is still very good.
4. I am not able to control where the camera is looking by swiping my finger across the screen as is possible in some of other cameras. Once you position it the angle is fixed.
5. Motion activation sends alerts but could be made smarter. It sends an alert for every 10 second segment. It would have been better if send an alert only if there was a big gap before motion was detected and not send alerts for sequential 10 second segments. It needs to monitor the time when the last message was sent and suppress an alert if the gap is less than say 5 minutes (or even better make it configurable).
6. Annoying permanent up-sell messages which cannot be hidden and take up half of the screen on the mobile app. If it was shown once and then disappeared I would have found it acceptable. Permanently? No. Taking up half of my mobile display? Not good.

The Arlo web site provides three subscription options. The free option supports 5 cameras and stores video for 1 week (you actually get 8 days, 7 day history and the current day). More cameras and longer storage (30 days and 60 days) costs $9.99 per month and $14.99 per month. I find the free version totally sufficient for my needs.

What's the bottom line? Despite the flaws I mentioned I really like it.

Update: July 2015.
It has been a month since I installed Arlo Security system. I am still running on the original batteries. The camera records something every day, so this is better battery life than I expected. I will post an update when I need to install new batteries.

Update: August 18 2015
Today I changed the first set of batteries. Now I am using rechargeable batteries. The first set of batteries lasted slightly over 2 months. As noted in my review I selected the most power efficient mode in the camera configuration. During this period the camera recorded about 20-30 short videos every day. When the battery was dead the web site gave me a notification "It is time to replace the batteries" and the battery indicator showed 1 red bar (instead of 3 green bars).

Update: September 23 2015
On August 18th I replaced the battery with rechargeable batteries. Brand name "UltraFire". Yesterday the battery indicator on the web site was displayed in red, I charged a new set of batteries overnight and this morning the camera was not taking any video, so I had 1 day warning. Rechargeable batteries lasted slightly over a month compared to the non-rechargeable batteries that lasted slightly over 2 months.

Update: August 10 2016
Using rechargeable in the winter required frequent battery changes. I have tried several brands of primary batteries since I began using Arlo and settled on Panasonic as they give me the longest life during the summer and in the winter.

The camera itself is working flawlessly, I am very happy with it. Since I wrote the original review the mobile app has been updated and is now speedy to use as well.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Product review: JENNIE LIU Women's Cashmere Silk Long Sleeve

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I love the way this shirt feels it is soft and silky at the same time. What do you get when you combine two most luxurious fabrics silk and cashmere? A shirt that is very thin and warm for it weight, and that feels great to touch. It has a wide deep V-neck so it works well as foundation layer during the winter (not visible), and it is pretty enough to wear on its own.

Sometimes when I get clothing on Amazon the sizes do not match American sizes and are too small, but Jennie Liu shirt is sized correctly. The shirt fits me well.

✿ Materials: 70% Cashmere 30% Silk
✿ Cleaning: Hand wash or dry clean

My video includes showing the shirt inside out. Looking at the seams is good way to see how well the garment is constructed. Jennie Liu construction is top quality: neat seams, no hanging threads, no imperfections. The shirt has smooth inside seams, the side seams are finished facing outside, but they are so neatly done that if I was not a seamstress myself I might not have noticed how it is constructed. This construction gives you a feeling like the shirt is seamless against your body, which is great if you are using it as an inner layer for sports activities - nothing is rubbing against the body.

It is top notch quality.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, June 26, 2015

Product review: The Tower by The Art of Power 30 Inch Standing Power and Charging Station

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This power strip is excellent. I found it even more convenient than I imagined - it works so well in cramped areas when reaching the power strip on the floor is difficult.

The tower is 29" tall, it reaches up to the height of my table. The AC outlets are spaced out widely, you can fit 4 large plugs into it. I also like that it has an on/off switch so I can turn it off when it is not in use.

It has an optional cradle for phone/table. My phone fit without falling out and my Nexus 7 tablet fit both in horizontal and vertical orientation.

It looks good, but more significantly it works great. I measured how well it chargers my devices with a current monitor and got excellent results.

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. The current drawn on each port depends on each device using the charger. The port rated with a maximum capacity of 2A does not always deliver 2A, what is actually delivered is controlled by the device based on many factors such running apps, level of charge, and so forth. I always use the same two devices and 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 do a relative comparison of various chargers and identify the ones that do not perform well. Note that these tests are not testing for the maximum current each device can draw on each port.

I am including the details of the tests below for those who like to see the technical details.
--------------------------
✔ Samsung Galaxy Nexus Phone (the only device charging)
--------------------------
Port 1: 1.01A/5.01V
Port 2: 1.04A/5.01V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this phone is 1.00A/5V)
--------------------------
✔ iPad Mini (the only device charging)
--------------------------
Port 1: 1.50A/5.05V
Port 2: 1.63A/5.05V
(for comparison the best charging monitor result for this tablet is 1.70A/5V)
---------------------------

Excellent power station overall.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Product review: Blusmart® Game Trail Scouting Survelliance Camera 12MP HD Infrared Hunting Camera

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I was excited to get this camera because we see a lot of wild life in our area, the neighbors even claim to have seen a bear and they said he was sleeping in our back yard. Maybe they were pulling my leg, but maybe not. I thought it would be really neat if we could see some of our visitors.

To get the camera to do what I wanted took some experimenting. Documentation is sparse and not very clear. For example, "motion detection" mode did not do what I expected. Only created videos when I moved the camera, not when something walked in front of the camera. What I wanted is to have the camera record only when something moves in front of it, so I did not have to look through a lot of uninteresting footage. For that you need to use "video" mode not "motion activated" mode.

The second issue I ran into is that the fresh set of batteries ran out in 1 day when I was using "motion activated" and "alarm" setting. It would have been very expensive to keep the camera going if I had to replace 8 batteries every day. However, in "video" mode the battery use is quite good - 64% full after 1 week of continuous use. Started on Sunday at 100%, next Sunday morning 69%, next Monday morning 64%.

I am using a WI FI card in the camera. I hoped to be able to monitor what the camera recorded without having to open the case. But the camera turns off WI FI fairly quickly to save on battery life. This means when I want to check what is on the card, I need to open the case and flip the on/off button to turn WI FI back on. WI FI also turns off during long downloads even when the card is being accessed, it is purely time based.

The video quality is highly dependent on lighting. In the day light it is very good (see cat video taken in doors and squirrel video taken outdoors), at night it turns on the light panel and is also quite good (see raccoon at night), however at dusk or right into the sun the video is okay but not as good as say my SONY NEX5 camera. In my video you see deer photos taken in time lapse mode, they were taken at dusk when it was getting dark.

This camera is large, robust, has a great camouflaged case. This camera itself is 6" x 3.5" x 2" in order to house eight AA batteries. The camouflaged case is waterproof and is 6.25" x 4.25" x 2.75".

The camera can run in "test" mode or real mode. Test mode allows you to see what the camera is recording using the LCD screen. In the test mode you can also change settings via menus displayed on the LCD screen. The interface is intuitive and controls are nice (a joystick like control with up, down, left, right).

The camera accepts two memory cards. The SD card is used to record video and the micro SD card is contains the sounds you want to play as an alarm (could be a call if you want to attract animals, or another noise if you want to scare animals away). It comes with several pre-recorded animal sounds and, of course, there are plenty of other available on the internet.

The set up was simple. The only thing I found a little confusing during the set up is that the camera comes with a USB cable and I thought I could use it to power the camera. When I had USB plugged in and turned on the camera I saw a warning on the LCD screen "waiting" and then the camera would turn off, then turn on again with a warning "waiting". Turns out USB cable is for data transfer only. I could power the camera by AC cable (not included) but the round plug from my LED desk lamp turned out to be the right power plug to use for this camera. As soon as I plugged it and switched the camera to the test mode, the camera displayed the menu.

I tested various modes video, hybrid, alarm on, motion detection. Everything but motion detection worked as expected. The sound is quite loud. It startled me when the camera began squealing like a pig.

The camera produces AVI and JPG output. The only unusual thing that it stores all while under SYCAM subdirectory not the standard DCIM directory.

The camera records 1080P video and images up to 12MP.

* Image Sensor: 12.0 Mega Pixels
* Picture Size: 12MP=4000x3000 / 8MP=3840x2160 / 5MP = 2944x1656 ,2MP=1920x1080 (JPEG)
* Video Size: HD: 1920x1080,1080x720 ,24fps (AVI)
* Memory: TF-card/SD-card up to 32GB
* LED & IR distance: 42PCS(850nm or 940nm),0-25m/85ft
* PIR (Passive infrared sensor) Angle: 65°
* Lens: F=2.4; FOV=60° ;Max View 62°; Auto IR-Cut-Remove (at night)
* Trigger Time: 0.6-1 s

In addition to the camera and the case, the package include USB cable, TV cable, strap for attaching the camera to objects (say a tree) and a user manual.

This specific camera is no longer sold on Amazon, but you see my review of a similar camera here Crenova game cam


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Product review: Wireless Qi Charger by TechMatte

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I have been using Qi chargers with Nexus 5 for over a year. I love the technology, it is convenient and does not stress 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 TechMatte Qi Charger to the same test run with the other chargers and found that it fell in the middel of the pack, not among the best and not the slowest. It charge the phone 5% in 10 minutes. I run the test at the same charge level, running the same apps, and keeping everything the same for an "apples to apples" comparison.

I also measured the charge rate with a current monitor, which also also puts the charger in the middle of the pack.
current monitor: ~~~~~ 0.82A and 5.05V (below optimal, but above USB rate)

➁ The size of the sweet spot
The sweet has an average size. I show this in the video for a better illustration of what I mean. I show both the phone on the charger and the current monitor which shows the rate at which the phone is charging. When it is perfectly aligned it draws an optimal charge. If the phone is moved slightly the current rate drops from an optimal rate to lower rate, and when it is moved a little more it draw no current and then the charger turns off. So if you accidentally brush against the phone and it moves it may stop charging. This is particularly important if you have small kids or pets who may touch things.

➂ How well the phone stays on the Qi charger

The phone can be easily knocked off the sweet spot of the charger unintentionally. The charges that handle those unintentional bumps best are the ones that have non-slippery finish. TechMatte has has a matte finish which works well because it creates friction with the phone. In addition the size of the charger is slightly larger than Nexus 5.

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 the 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 and thin.

➃ 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, TechMatte charger is 5.875" x 3.123" x 0.125" so TechMatte is slightly larger than Nexus 5. This is ideal.

➄ 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. TechMatte charger uses the standard micro USB cable. Excellent!

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. It charges with an average speed but its non-slip surface and its size make it a practical charger for me.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Monday, June 22, 2015

Product review: Memoscan U380 OBDII Car Diagnostic Scanner Trouble Code Reader

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I just got a replacement unit. Unfortunately the second unit also generates "Linking Error!". It appears that the seller has a bad batch of these. I have reviewed another OBD II scanner (a bluetooth unit) and it worked it both cars, so I know the connectors are not faulty. This connector is always on according to documentation. Just in case I have tried running it with the engine off, with the engine on, and with the key on ACC setting.

Original review:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Memoscan scanner did not work with either of our cars even thought both were listed as compatible.

Both Honda CRV and Chrysler 300 work with another OBD II scanner but with Memoscan we get "Linking Error!" which indicates that Memoscan has trouble communicating with the vehicle.

All cars and light trucks built and sold in the United States after January 1, 1996 were required to be OBD II equipped. The connector is very distinctive looking, I am including a picture of it in my video for reference. In both of our cars this connector is located under the dash, under the steering wheel.

The scanner displays information on a small screen on the hand held unit. The scanner works as soon as car is turned on. There is no need to turn on the engine. The scanner goes through a series of messages (see video) but for both of our cars the sequence ends with "Linking error!"

Memoscan comes with an impressive manual. It is well written and easy to understand and includes 36 pages of trouble codes.

I received this device from the manufacturer with a request for testing and review as well as some documentation on how to use the device. The manual and the device look impressive, but it was not able to give us any readings. Note that both units were received via Fulfilment by Amazon, which is my requirement for evaluation products so I could get random sample not a pre-tested unit.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★☆☆☆☆

Product review: Zoppen Women's Wosha Leopard Print Hobo Handbag

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This is bag has my favorate shape and configuration: a hobo bags with three compartments. Two large compartments on the sides and a smaller zipped compartment in the middle. I love having three main compartments so I sort my stuff. The middle zipped compartment also has one zipped pocket and two open side pockets. My bag is always overstuff and this bag helps me keep everything well organized.

♦ The purse is 6.5" long (measured from top to bottom in the middle). It is 13.5" wide (side to side at the bottom, which is the widest part). It is 5" deep (measuring the width of the bottom panel).
♦ The inside the bag there are three main compartments. One of them is zipped. The side compartments are equal in size and have snap closures.
♦ There is one large zipped compartment on the outside.
♦ The purse has 18 inch handles (they extend 8" above the zipper in the center). They just long enough for me to put the bag over the shoulder (but it is a tight fit). Since the handles fit over the should there is no separate over the should strap.

The inside lining is deep brown with Jacquard design. It is very attractive and the deep brown color practical because it does not show dirt and will look good for a long time.

The bag is made out of Cow Split. Split leather is real leather but the less expensive bottom layer of the hide (the top portion ("top-grain leather) is the more expensive premium product). The bag's finish is shiny and fairly hard. This finish is called Enamelled Bovine Leather because it is smooth and shiny like enamelled finish.

This is a nice and practical bag.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Product review: Unnecto Air 5.0 Cell Phones

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This a fairly nice phone. Its strongest points are the bright display, a 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 the Chinese market.

Its weakest point is the small amount of memory. It does allow to install a micro sd card for additional storage for your media (photos and audio) but that extra storage cannot be used for apps. So this means that at some point to add new apps you will need to figure out what you don't use and uninstall those apps. Right now I have 779 MB of apps installed and 111 MB available. I have 25 apps installed. 498MB is available for media content (photos, music, app data).

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. There were no instructions on how to remove the back, I could not slide it off but was able to flick the cover off starting in one of the corners.

Unnecto Air smart phone has a nice form factor it is 5 7/8" x 2 3/4" x 1/4" and weighs 4.7 oz. The phone is running Android 4.4.2 operating system.

I installed a number of my favorite apps and all of them loaded and ran without a problem. Among the apps I tested are Netflix, Pandora, TuneIn Radio, iHeart Radio, Polaroid Mobile printer. 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, bluetooth speakers, an mobile printer 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 35 Mbps upload and 29 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). Unnecto Air is decent but not outstanding.

The speaker on this phone is pretty good. When I spoke on the phone, I was told I sound clear, the sound on my end was clear but sounded slightly tinny.

The camera on this phone is decent. It performs best under good light conditions (not into the sun, not dusk). Attached video includes some photos taken by the phone.

Overall, this is a 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, June 18, 2015

Product review: Real Butterfly Wing Earrings in Sterling Silver

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I worn these earrings a few times since I got them and every time I get compliments! They are beautiful and unique. They are not as fragile as I imagined, the wings are encased in a thin acrylic tear-drops so they are perfectly okay to handle. My husband called them "hand-made amber" as it is an insect in a polymer.

The earring has a sterling silver wire forming a frame around the colorful tear-drop. I thought the design is attractive and delicate (but not fragile). The total length of the earring is 1 5/8" long and 1 1/8" wide, so it is fairly large. The earring has a sterling silver stopper in the back so there is no chance that it will get caught on something and pulled out.


You can find them on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Product review: Monarch Butterfly Wing Sterling Silver Earrings

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I worn these earrings a few times since I got them and every time I get compliments! They are beautiful and unique. They are not as fragile as I imagined, the wings are encased in a thin acrylic tear-drops so they are perfectly okay to handle. My husband called them "hand-made amber" as it is an insect in a polymer.

The earring has a sterling silver wire forming a frame around the colorful teardrop. I thought the design is attractive and delicate. The total length of the earring is 1 7/8" long and 3/4" wide, so it is fairly large. The earring has a silicone stopper in the back so there is no chance that it will get caught on something and pulled out if my ear.

I am very pleased with them, just gorgeous!

You can find them on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Product review: Veetop® 4 in 1 Wireless Key Finder Tracker Locator

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Sometimes I leave my keys in a pocket of some jacket I wore the previous day and spent quite a bit of time hunting for them. No more! This key finder works very well saving me quit a bit of time.

The range of the key finder is excellent I left the keys on one floor and took the key finder to another floor and could still hear the beeps. There are four color coded receivers, and one transmitter with 4 color coded buttons. All 4 buttons sound the same,

The transmitter runs on two AAA batteries (not included) and each of receivers runs on one CR2032 battery (included). The package also includes a little stand for the receiver, so it is easy to see the transmitter and I don't have to spend time looking for it.

The receivers are a little larger than I expected: 2" x 1 3/8" x 1/4". They have an eyelet that make it possible to hang them on a key chain. I keep my house key and my car key on two different key chains I am carrying two of these in my purse. In the two weeks since I attached it already saved me a few minutes and a lot of frustration.

What could be better? I would have liked receivers to be smaller.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, June 12, 2015

Product review: Sojos Complete Turkey Cat Food Mix

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Our cats do not like human food. They like dry food and learned to like a little bit of wet food. I was not sure what their reaction would be to this food, which is kind of falls in the middle between dry and wet food. It comes dehydrated and need to be soaked for 15 minutes in warm water before serving it. The instructions on proportions appear on the package. In attached video you see half a cut of dry good mixed with 3/4 cup of water. After 15 minutes of soaking we drained the water that was left in the food. It has been 12 days since we introduced this food. One cat eats it, the other one still has no interest even if we mix it with something she likes. She just eats around it.

For the first encounter with the good we removed their favorite dry cat food leaving them no choice. At first the cats were not interested, but a few minutes later one of the cats returned and ate so I was able to record it. Then we left the motion activated camera pointed the food ball and left them alone. The camera caught that one of the kitties returned several times and ate it, the other cat was not interested. As most cats our cats are finicky eaters and do like different things. So the fact that one of them like it right away is pretty impressive. Not all of the food got eaten and now we use 1/4 cup portions.

This product is provided by SoJos, a Minnesota based company specializing in "homemade" pet foods.

Our cats give it one paw up.

♦ Feline product rating system:
★ two paws up - both cats like it
★ one paw up - one cat likes it
★ no paws up - neither one of the two cats liked it

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Product review: Selens® 168 LED Dimmable Ultra High Power Panel Digital Camera

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own several light panels and Selens has several features that made it the one I use most often.

The most useful feature to me is the ability to change the amount of light that the panel generates with a simple turn of the knob. This allows me to have perfect lighting in different situations. In the attached video you can see how easy it is to find perfect lighting.

The second thing that I find very useful is the two filters that are included with the panel. The one I use most is the yellow filter that give me warm light. I really like that the filters fit snugly and stay in even if you turn the light upside down. In my other light panel the filter can slide out of I tilt the light and I had to tape the filter so I don't drop it as I move the lights.

The light panel can run using several different types of batteries: six AA batteries, NP-550,LP-E6,EN-EL15. I am using it with rechargeable AA batteries. Another useful feature is a battery test button on the back - I can tell how much juice the batteries have. I can recharge the batteries in advance of a long photo session if needed.

The light panel generates continuous light. Once you turn it on the light panel stays on. This panel does not communicate with the camera like a flash. It can be mounted it on the camera shoe, but I use it mounted on tripod so I have more control of where the lighting goes and my camera is lighter for a steadier shot. In my video you see how I use this light on a small tripod for the table top photography.

The photo panel is 6" by 3.75" and 2" deep. The light weighs 1 poin 0.3 oz (with six AA batteries installed). It has 168 LED lights.

Overall, I like this light very much. It is easy to set up and easy to change the amount of light I get to fit any situation.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Product review: Pair of Terse Silk Pillowcase 19 Momme Mulberry Silk by Lilysilk

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I am very pleased with the pillow case. It feels great on my face. The silk is thick and luxurious. I got the blue color and it is a beautiful shade of dusty blue. The workmanship is very good, all seams are very neat The for for a standard pillow is perfect (see photo).

The descriptions mentions an envelope closure at the end. It is there but it is about 4 inches away from the end of the pillow so it does not hold the pillow in. If you are looking for envelope closure it will not work without some alterations.

Care recommendations:
1. Hand wash
2. Cold Iron
3. Do not dry clean
4. If using machine wash, then use cold water and gentle cycle
5. Do not tumble dry

It is super nice! The pillowcase comes in a box and the package looks very attractive so it can be used as a gift.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, June 8, 2015

Product review: Boulder Triple Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

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EcoVessel stainless steel bottle has a insulated stainless steel body and cap. The cap can be either totally removed or opened to reveal a drinking spout. The drinking spout is not a sports cap, it is just a fairly large opening with a plastic edge. Because it is large it is easy to drink from. The cap forms a good seal and does not leak.

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 EcoVessel thermos keeps the temperature I filled it with hot water and measured the temperature several times over 20 hours with a temperature probe. My temperature probe shows both time of day and temperature, in the table below I am rounding the hours but you can precise times in the video if you care.

★ start ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 185 degrees
★ 8.5 h later ~~~~~~~~~~ 132 degrees
★ 20.5 h later ~~~~~~~~~ 102 degrees

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

The bottle holds 20 oz of water and weighs 12 oz when empty. The bottle's base is 2 7/8" across at the base. This bottle fits into the bottle holder of my car. The bottle is 11.5" tall (from the base to the top of the cap). One unique feature of this bottle is that include a stainless steel strainer, so if you want use the bottle to brew tea or keep the ice from touching you lips the strainer will do it.

The instructions say that this bottle should NOT be washed in the dishwasher and hand washing is strongly recommended.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Product review: AROCCOM® Advanced LED Plant Grow Light - 13 days grow diary

video

In attached video you can see a 13 day dairy of two plants (cucumber seedlings). One plan is growing in a sunny window, the other one in dark area under a Aroccom grow light. The grow light was turned on for 14 hours a day on a timer (off at night).

I did this experiment with four different grow bulbs and one control plant in the sunny window. At the end of the video I include the last day of the plants grown with other grow bulbs for comparison.

As you see at the end of 13 days all plants are healthy but the plant in a sunny window is bigger. My video shows the set up for all 4 grow bulbs. The conditions for all plants were the same, they were watered at the same time, the timers were set up on the same schedule. There are slight differences between the size of the plants that grew under different grow lights but the differences are not big. For example, 12W bulb vs 15W bulb did not make a big difference. So I would say shop based on the best price.

Aroccom 12W Grow light fits into a regular bulb fixture. The light is 5.5" long, and 5" wide. The light feels well made. The finish of the bulb looks neat, and when I shake it nothing rattles.

Even though the sunny window did best in my experiment often a sunny window is not an option and in that case grow lights do quite well. All plants look very healthy.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Product review: Erligpowht E27 12W Led Grow Light - 13 days grow diary

video

In attached video you can see a 13 day dairy of two cucumber seedlings - one is growing in a sunny window, the other one in dark area under a Erligpowht grow light. The grow light was turned on for 14 hours a day using a timer (off at night).

I did this experiment with four different grow bulbs and one control plant in the sunny window.
At the end of the video I include the last day of the plants grown with the aid of the other grow bulbs for comparison.

As you see at the end of 13 days all plants are healthy but the plant in a sunny window is bigger. My video shows the set up for all 4 grow bulbs. The conditions for all plants were the same, they were watered at the same time, the timers were set up on the same schedule. There are slight differences between the size of the plants that grew under different grow lights but the differences were not big. For example, 12W bulb vs 15W bulb did not make a big difference. Based on this experiment I would say shop based on price.

Erlighpowht 12W Grow light fits into a regular bulb fixture. The light weight 9.15 oz and is 5.5" long, and 4.75" wide. The light feels well made. The finish of the bulb looks neat, and when I shake it nothing rattles.

Even though the sunny window did best in my experiment often a sunny window is not an option, and in that case grow lights do quite well. The plants look very healthy.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Product review: HHE E27 15w LED Grow Lights - 13 days grow diary

video

In attached video you can see a 13 day dairy of three cucumber seedlings - one is growing in a sunny window, the two others in dark area under HHE 12W and HHE 15W grow lights. The grow lights were turned on for 14 hours a day on a timer (off at night).

I did this experiment with four different grow bulbs and one control plant in the sunny window.
At the end of the video I include the last day of the plants grown with the aid of the other grow bulbs for comparison.

As you see at the end of 13 days all plants are healthy but the plant in a sunny window is bigger. My video shows the set up for all 4 grow bulbs. The conditions for all plants were the same, they were watered at the same time, the timers were set up on the same schedule. There are slight differences between the size of the plants that grew under different grow lights but the differences were not big. For example, 12W bulb vs 15W bulb did not make a big difference. Based on this experiment I would say shop based on price.

HHE 12W and 15W grow lights fit into a regular bulb fixture. The lights feel well made. The finish of the bulbs looks neat, and when I shake them nothing rattles.

Even though the sunny window did best in my experiment often a sunny window is not an option, and in that case grow lights do quite well. The plants look very healthy.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.



Ali Julia review ★★★★★