Thursday, March 31, 2016
Product review: Smart phone camera lens Kit 3 in 1: 198 Fisheye Lens,15x Macro Lens 0.63x Wide Angle Lens
The kit includes 3 lenses: a fisheye, a wide angle and a macro lens. Initially I thought I had only two lenses in this kit, but his was because the wide angle and macro lens are shipped screwed into each other and have only one lens cap between them. Fisheye lens has a cap of its own. The side that screws into the holder does not have a lens cap. Another kit I own has caps for both ends of the lens, which is better. The lens holder is a clip. The clip is very nice, it opens easily but holds very tightly. Finally, I like that they come in a case. It helps to keep all pieces together. The case has a carabiner, so I can clip it to my purse so the lenses are always handy.
I included photos taken from the same spot with and without the lenses so you can see the difference. My favorite lens in the kit is the fisheye lens, it allowed me to take very interesting photos that I could not take without it, the photos are always sharp no fussing with the lens is needed. Wide angle lens is also easy to use. The macro lens provides magnification but focus is more challenging and requires a bit of fussing. This typical for a macro lens, so not a knock on this lens specifically.
I received this kit for testing and review. Getting a free product does not prevent me from honestly describing pluses and minuses of my experience.
YOu can find this camera lens kit on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
This is an excellent knife. It is a general purpose knife for dicing, slicing and mincing. Santoku translates from Japanese to mean "well-balanced" and is designed with the weights of the blade and the handle to be equally balanced. This balance in combination with an ergonomic shape of the handle makes cutting and dicing with it quick and easy. It is very sharp, everything I cut feels as easy as cutting soft butter.
The knife comes with a protective sheath. Protective sheath is unlocked by pulling out a small black pin as I show in the video.
This knife has a limited "rocking" travel in comparison to a Western-style chef's knife. When the blade rests on the cutting plane there is very little clearance above the cutting plane from heel to the tip. The Santoku design is shorter, lighter, thinner, and more hardened (to compensate for thinness) than a traditional Western chef's knife.
The "scalloped" sides that give this knife its unique look create small air pockets between the blade and the material being sliced and reduce cutting friction. The higher quality of Japanese knives use laminated steel which has a beautiful pattern. This knife has this laminated finish. Not only does it make the blade look beautiful but it also improves the strength and rust resistance of the blade.
It can be washed in a dishwasher, but I prefer to wash it by hand so it will last longer and there's no risk of them cutting the plastic coating on the appliance racks.
The packaging of the knife is very nice. The box looks attractive and also includes a very nice manual, a cleaning cloth, and a key chain with Dalstrong logo. The manual covers information from maintenance to how to hold the knife.
YOu can find "DALSTRONG Santoku Knife" on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Monday, March 28, 2016
Its size is 3.75" x 7.25" (a little smaller than Amazon description).
The id compartment is 3 5/8" long and 2 5/8" wide. It fits both the drivers license and the passport card (which is tiny bit large than the driver's license).
Drivers license is 3 3/8" X 2 1/8"
Passport card is 3 1/2" x 2 1/4"
There are two aspects to consider about this wallet. First, how does it fit all items one wants to carry in the wallet. Second, is RFID protection worth paying extra for.
When is RFID useful? There are three types of credit cards:
1) Cards that have only magnetic strip do not emit any kind of data for the thieves to steal. RFID protection is not needed.
2) RFID cards which are are identified by wavy lines on the card (see attached photo). These cards came into being a few years ago and has not became widely used. RFID chip cards produce radio waves which can be picked by thieves that are are a few feet away from the card and can be targets for electronic pick pockets. RFID protection is needed.
3) The new EMV chipped cards they are now a requirement and are common. EMV cards work either by being inserted into a check out terminal or by Near Field Communication (NFC). NFC radio signals degrade very quickly, they can only be transmitted within a very short distance measured in centimeters. This need for proximity makes the risk of electronic pick pockets extremely low. In addition, the data transmitted by the card is encrypted which further minimizing the risk. Whether RFID protection is needed is more of a personal preference rather than yes or no purely based on the technology.
So what is the bottom line? For the old fashioned magnetic strip cards RFID protection is not needed at all. If you have the old RFID type credit card, the RFID wallets are useful. For the EMV credit cards they are not really needed but could provide peace of mind for those who worry.
This wallet is provided by Dante for evaluation and review. I hope my review was helpful to figure it if the wallet is match for your needs. RFID protection is not a key feature for me, but I like the way it looks and the number of compartments it has.
YOu can find "Dante Wallet" on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review
Saturday, March 26, 2016
This vacuum is 15.5" long and weighs 1 pound 9.6 oz. It felt quite light and I was not sure if it would have sufficient suction, but it surprised me. This vacuum works well especially when I put a crevice nozzle attachment: it picked up all kinds of sand, twigs, and stones in my car in just a few sweeps. It worked better than my hand held wireless vacuum which I used to use for this job before.
Zedge vac comes with several attachments: the crevice nozzle (my favorite), two types of brushes, and a hose. The package also includes a carrying bag. The bag is very snug and fits the vacuum and attachments, but not the hose. I would have liked the bag to be bigger so it is not so snug and I would have liked it to be big enough to fit the hose as well so I could keep everything together.
The AC cord is 184" inches long. I can reach not only my back seat but even my trunk without unplugging it from the port in the front of the car.
Changing the filter is easy. There is a button next to the on/off switch that pops off the dust compartment. When you close it you need to point the dust compartment down because the filter does not lock in, so you need to use gravity to keep in the right orientation.
Despite being light and small it really sucks (in a good way).
YOu can find this vac on Amazon via this link
Ali Julia review
Thursday, March 24, 2016
However to give this great visual effect the designers made one major change to a traditional balaclava design. Unlike a traditional balaclava, you cannot totally pull down the bottom part of mask that covers the nose and mouth. I can pull it down under my nose, but not all the way below my chin. If I put it under my chin my eyes are covered with fabric, the opening is too small.
Why does it matter? Anyone who has worn a balaclava knows that they get tremendously warm. Even in wearing this thin balaclava I felt I had to open my face every now and then to cool off. I could not do it without taking the entire thing off. And to put it back on I had to unbutton my coat.
I decided to wear it because we had a stretch with sub zero record cold temperatures (frostbite warnings in 10 minutes of skin exposure) so taking it on and off was unpleasant because I had to take off my hat and unbutton the coat to do so.
So it gets great marks for appearance and craftsmanship. However, it gets low marks for practicality. After one day of attempting to wear it how I would wear a real balaclava, now I think of it as a costume. A great looking costume and comfortable for a costume, but not a balaclava I would wear doing sports or walking around in a sub zero temperature.
I received a this balaclava for evaluation and review. Getting a free product does not effect what I say. I described both pluses and minuses of my experience exactly as I see them.
You can locate this Face Mask Balaclava on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Polaroid Snap camera is fun to have at a party. Instant prints are fun to share with friends. However, as a camera on its own right it is not the best. The prints you get are not as good if the ones I can take with my phone camera, for example, and print later. But that's the key "later" vs "now". I am including a few prints taken with the camera (indoors and outdoors) and they all have a blueish tint. The camera has a flash and the documentation says that the camera focuses and flashes automatically, but in all the pictures I have taken so far the flash has not triggered. The auto focus has been good in 99% of the photos.
The package does not include a manual or any documentation other than a small pictogram. I had to Google for documentation and then click "buy" on Polaroid web site to get to the place where I could download the documentation and download a firmware update. I have done both, the photos you see are using the latest firmware.
To turn on the camera you have to pop up the view finder, which looks like a retractable flash from the first glance. The pop-up opens easily, often accidentally when I just brushed my hand over the camera. The lens is covered with a magnetic cap. It is not attached in any other way to the camera and is fairly easy to loose if you remove it to take pictures.
The big red button on top of the camera is the shutter. When you press it there is no clear feedback that the photo has been taken until the printer starts making a whirling noise and the print comes out. From experienced I learned to press and wait a second in order not to waste paper by pressing twice because I did not think I made good contact the first time.
Zink paper is placed into the camera with the bar code facing down, shiny side up. The camera can hold only 10 pieces of paper at a time. Each paper sheet is 2" x 3". The images appears on paper by heating the Zink paper in different ways. The camera uses no ink which makes the print come out of the camera totally dry, you cannot smudge it. The print feels thick and very glossy. Unlike a regular glossy photo print Zink paper does not show finger prints.
The camera generates 5M images. The images can be saved as well as printed if you insert micro SD card into the camera. The camera supports micro SD cards up to capacity 32G. The micro SD is not included. In attached video I show both the scans of printed photos and the image saved to disk. You can see that the blue tint appears only on the paper print.
The camera runs on rechargeable 7.4V battery which is non-removable. This means at some point non-rechargeable battery will become a problem as it will hold less and less charge as the battery ages.
I received this camera for testing and review. Bottom line? A lot of fun at a party but not the best camera if you discount the ability to get instant prints. So how much weight does this unique feature have? For me taking in account all pluses and minuses it fell somewhere between 3 stars (ok) and 4 stars (good).
You can find Polaroid Snap on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Product review: SINOKAL Elastic Dustproof Luggage Suitcase Protector Cover Fits Most 20" to 29" Bags
What attracted me to this cover is the thought of easily identifying my luggage on the airport carousel. I selected the "dreamy colors" because it was the wildest brightest design which I thought would stand out the most. The colors in the stock photo were accurate and it is as bright and as wild in person as you see in the stock photo.
I tried it on the two large suitcases that I travel with most frequently and both had some fit issues. I am attaching photos for each suitcases and will describe the issues so you can be the judge if they are deal breakers. One of my suitcases is green another one is red so you can match my comments to the photos.
1. Sinokal's bottom closes with a large Velcro strip and an elastic strap for extra security. The wheels fit fine, the suitcase rolls well. See green suitcase collage photos labeled 1 and 2.
2. The openings for the handles on the side and on top line up well. The handled are positioned in the center of the suitcase and that lines up with holes in the cover. See green suitcase collage photos labeled 3 and 4.
3. The fit problem is with the handle that extends to roll this suitcases. The handle on this suitcase spans the entire width of the suitcase and does not fit into the small opening in the luggage cover. See green suitcase collage photo labeled 4.
The fact that I cannot roll the suitcases when it case a cover on a serious problem. I would need to cut the opening to be bigger if I decide to use this cover with the green suitcase.
1. The bottom closes with a large Velcro strip and an elastic strap for extra security. The wheels fit fine, the suitcase rolls well. See red suitcase collage photo labeled 1.
2. The handle that extends to roll the luggage lines up with the opening of the luggage cover perfectly. The handle is small and off center. It fits into the hole in the cover just right. See red suitcase collage photo labeled 2.
3. The fit problem comes from the position of the handles. The handles on this suitcases are positioned off center, so both the side and the top handles of the suitcase do not line up with the openings in the cover. See red suitcase collage photos labeled 3 and 4. However, they are close enough to the opening that I can reach them through the opening and the handles can be used.
The problems with the handles are minor, I can still use them. So overall, the red suitcase fits the cover better.
I received this luggage cover for testing and review. Bottom line: I love the idea of the luggage cover to personalize my luggage and make it stand out. It also provides protection for the suitcase which to me is secondary. However, the luggage cover is not universal. It fits best the suitcases with the following configurations:
1. the handle that pulls out has to be off center and not span the entire width of the luggage.
2. the handles on the sides has to be in the middle of the luggage.
Other configuration could work too, but you might need to do some sewing to enlarge the holes in the cover to fit your favorite suitcase.
You can find this luggage cover on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review
Friday, March 18, 2016
I ordered the grey color for the laundry room in otherwise unfinished basement. The grey color tiles fit perfectly giving the laundry room a neater appearance without standing out. The tiled section lays flat and the installation was pretty simple. I used a mallet to tap in the locks.
I received these floor tiles for testing and review as part of the new product introduction. I hope attached photos will give you a better idea of what to expect.
You can find these Tiles on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
One Drop Water Alarm is very sensitive to water as long as you put it the right side up. How can you tell which side is the right side? Make you can read the web address of the company in the left top corner. If the web address is backwards you got it upside down and it will not make any noise. I show how the mat reactions to drops of water with the right side up and the wrong side up.
I have had a leak under my sink in the past and it went undetected for several days until it caused some damage. This mat is going to let me right away. The mat very thin (1 mm thick) it comes with net liner so metal thing do not the lines on the mat and general false alarms. The mat can be trimmed as long as you cut between the sensor lines.
The alarm has two modes music and alarm, both are very loud and unpleasant. They can be turned off by changed the switch on the box. I made sure it was easily accessible because I will want to turn it off as soon as it lets me know there is a problem.
The alarm runs on 9volt battery and the battery is not included.
I received a sample unit from manufacture to share my experience with the alarm (be they positive or negative) the with potential future buyers. This fairly inexpensive device can save you a lot of money by preventing water damage.
You can locate One Drop of Leak Detector on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review
Monday, March 14, 2016
This knife has become one of my two "workhorse" knives (the other being the chef's knife). This is a terrific knife, great for any kind of slicing and cutting that requires a lot of control: cutting, peeling, cutting out shapes, scoring, and so forth. It is very sharp and its handle is comfortable to hold. One small thing that I really like about this knife is the transition from the heel of the knife to the bolster is curved and it is one piece of steel, it does not have a grove where dirt can hide.
This knife has a beautiful pattern on the blade. This is because the knife's blade is made out of laminated stainless steel. The higher quality of Japanese knives use laminated steel which has this beautiful pattern. The use of laminated steel improves the strength and rust resistance of the blade (and it looks beautiful).
A note on packaging. I don't often comment on packaging unless there is something special about it. This knife comes in a very attractive packaging, the box packing is sculpted to the knives shape and is made out of red velvety material. The presentation of the knife is suited for a gift.
This knife was provided to me for testing and review by Zelite as part of the new product introduction. I am impressed!
You can locate this Paring Knife on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review
Saturday, March 12, 2016
This is a very pretty cup. The edge of the cup feels very nice on my lips, it is sculpted to be thinner at the edge. I often drink tea from my coffee mug, so switching to this cup made me feel like it was a special occasion - very delicate and festive.
The package includes a teacup, a saucer, and tiny spoon. The spoon is also made out of bone china, and it is much smaller than a regular tea spoon. I like the spoon for scooping loose tea into a small tea bag, it is just right size to deposit the content into a small baggy.
Attached photos show the cup and the cup markings. The markings do not indicate where the cup is made, but the seller is based in China.
I received this cup for evaluation and review. I like it - very pretty and delicate teacup.
Ali Julia review
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Many manufactures add unnecessary lights to various devices, I especially object to the bright LED lights on chargers I keep in the bedroom where I want total darkness. In the past I use electrical tape to cover up lights. LightDims are a neater (but more expensive) solution.
LightDims package is a single sheet of stickers that come in a variety of sizes, made out of thin dark material with a strong adhesive that covers even the brightest LED lights.
In attached video you see my one of my favorite chargers that has one of the brightest blue LEDs invented. I had that LED covered by a piece of electrical tape, but the electrical tape also covered the port labels. In the video I remove the electrical tape and replacing it with the light dims. The light coverage is the same, but the appearance is neater and the labels are visible.
Even though LightDims are more expensive to use than a piece of electrical tape if you trying to cover a light on a piece of equipment that you want to look neat or leave labels clearly visible LightDims will do a good job.
I received LightDim stickers for testing and review. I hope seeing the video helps you getting a better idea of what to expect.
You can find "LightDims Black Out Edition" on Amazon via this link
Ali Julia review
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Prior to testing the charger, I read the specs of the charger and I was disappointed to see that it has very rigid specs for each port (best chargers have a smart chip that allow each port of a charger to work equally well with different mobile devices).
The spec listed the following information:
iPhone port provides 1 A/5V
iPad port provides 2.1 A/5V
Samsung port provides 1.3 A/5V
Android port provides 0.6 A/5V
Fortunately, when I tested each port the spec information proved to be incorrect and each port is not limited to stated limits.
I tested Nexus 6p with both 3.1 compliant and 3.1 non-compliant charging cables.
What is 3.1 compliant cable? USB 3.1 spec specifies that the termination resistor that advertises the maximum available current should be set at 22K which advertises 1.5A of current. Benson Leung has a series of excellent reviews of Type C cables. Benson works for Google's Pixel group and has pointed out that many type-C cables violate the USB 3.1 specification that states that the termination resistor that advertises the maximum available current has been set incorrectly at 10K which advertises 3A of current rather than the correct value of 22K which advertises 1.5A of current. The "bug" in non-compliant cables can be used as a feature of allowing rapid charging for Nexus 6p. The phone does not draw more than 2.5A so it does not damage the phone. The non-compliant cable could be harmful to devices that are not limited to 2.5A such as the ones that Benson evaluated in his reviews.
Nexus 6p, charge level 46-51% keeping all other variables the same (at this level Nexus 6p uses rapid charging if possible)
* Using Tenswall USB 3.1 non-compliant cable
Android port_.._.._.._.._.._.._ 2430 mA (excellent)
iPhone port_.._.._.._.._.._..__ 2320 mA (excellent)
iPad port_.._.._.._.._.._.._.._ 2330 mA (excellent)
Samsung port_.._.._.._.._.._.._ 2310 mA (excellent)
* Using PECHAM USB 3.1 compliant cable
Android port_.._.._.._.._.._.._ 800 mA (bad)
iPhone port_.._.._.._.._.._..__ 1280 mA (ok)
iPad port_.._.._.._.._.._.._.._ 1330 mA (ok)
Samsung port_.._.._.._.._.._.._ 1320 mA (ok)
With a rapid charging non-compliant cable Nexus 6p is getting rapid charging on every port. With a compliant 3.1 USB cable I am not getting rapid charging, but it performs reasonably on every port but the port labeled "Android".
I received this car charger for evaluation and review. Getting a free product to review does not effect what I say. My review and opinions are purely my own based on testing and my experience with many different car chargers.
You can find UEB Car Charger on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★☆
Sunday, March 6, 2016
The pizza I cooked on the stone had a nice crispy crust. It tasted better than the pizzas I made on the metal sheet. The pizza you see in the video is 16", this the maximum size of the pizza that fits on the stone. We did not finish this pizza on the first day, and I reheated the pizza the next day using the stone, and again it was nice and crisp, as good as the first day.
Pizza stones are not made out of stone. They are made out of ceramic. These unglazed ceramic tiles absorb moisture and make the dough that rests of them crispier. Ceramic tiles are not good heat conductors and this is why the food is less likely to burn when using a baking stone compared to using metal or glass bakeware.
The down side of the ceramic tiles is that they are fragile. As I found first hand because my baking stone did not survive shipping in one piece. It was broken in two pieces as I opened the box. Replacement stone was in one piece. The benefit of having a broken stone is that I am able to include a photo of the cross section of the stone so everything can see exactly how it is made.
To prevent fracturing of the stone by thermal shock I place the stone in a cold oven and heat it over at least 30 min, 45 minutes is even better. The stone gets very hot, I use a cookie sheet without a lip to slide the pizza onto the stone. To prevent items from sticking to the stone and to make cleaning easier I sprinkle corn starch on the stone. Corn starch works better than flour because it does not turn into paste when wet. When the pizza is done, I slide off the stone onto the cookie sheet, and let the stone to cool down slowly inside the oven.
When I can I clean the stone I use a dry brush and plain water. I do not use detergent because it gets absorbed by the stone.
I received this pizza stone for testing and review as part of a new product introduction.
You can locate Crustina Pizza Stone on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★★
Friday, March 4, 2016
This flashlight is 2 5/8" long and has three modes: bright, medium, and strobe. I like the mechanism for turning on the light and changing modes. It is a slide switch which is used not only to turn on the flash light but to change modes as well. It cycles through three modes with every slide. I can hold the flashlight and change the mode with one hand which sometimes is quite useful.
How bright is bright? To answer this question an easy way I used a lux meter which measures light intensity and compared the brightness of this flash light with a 60 watt bulb, because everyone has a good feel for how bright a 60 watt bulb is.
Flashlight bright mode at 19" = 1492 lux
Flashlight low mode at 19" = 392 lux
Fluorescent bulb at 19" = 613 lux
The flashlight runs on one AAA battery, the battery is included. The battery has a stopper in the flashlight to preserve the battery (a red disc which is easy to see if you open the flashlight). The weight of the flashlight with the battery installed is 0.9 oz.
I received this flashlight for testing and review. The flashlight produces pretty bright light, alhtough the beam of the light is not large. I am including a video to give you a better idea of what to expect.
You can find this LOPOO Key Chain Flashlight by following this link to Amazon.
Ali Julia review ★★★★★
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
This is a very comfortable bread knife to work with. It has a slim handle that is ergonomically shaped. It feels great in my hand and makes the knife very easy to maneuver. The knife weighs 9.2 oz. The blade is very sharp! It works well on both soft bread and crusty breads.
It is ok for the dishwasher, but I always hand wash nice knives. They will last longer and there's no risk of them cutting the plastic coating on the appliance racks.
This knife has a beautiful finish, which looks like a marbled design. The higher quality of Japanese knives uses laminated steel which has this beautiful pattern. The use of laminated steel improves the strength and rust resistance of the blade (and it looks beautiful).
In attached video I use to cut two different breads, I've tried to show the clean cuts.
I was provided this knife for testing and review as part of new product introduction. Getting a free product does not effect what I say. I leave critical reviews when the product deserves it. However, I am very pleased with knife and it has become my go-to bread knife.
You can find this bread Knife on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★★
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The video quality that KF concepts camera records is pretty decent especially at night, however I ran into several problems with it. First, the camera is shipped with the default language set to Chinese. The manual is not detailed and has no information on how to change the language. I had to manually select every option on the menus one by one remembering what I already looked at by position (I do not read Chinese) until I found a menu choice that allowed me to switch the menus to English. I show where that option is located in my video. The second problem was the mount does not stay on the windshield during cold weather. We had a cold stretch of weather (12°F in the morning) and the suction cup mount does not stay on the windshield at this temperature. In the afternoons when the weather warms up I am able to mount it and stays for as long as I need. So if you live in a cold weather this dash cam will not work well for you. The mount is custom made for this camera, so you cannot replace it with another better mount.
On the positive side I like that the dash cam's compact size (2.25" x 2.25" x 0.75"). It does not block much of the windshield. The video quality is fine. It is not as good as 4K cameras, but quite reasonable and it does quite well at night. My video includes snippets under various conditions - day and night. 170° wide angle lens gives a good view of the entire road.
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. The package includes a 32GB Class 10 micro SD.
When the dash cam writes out files to disks it saves them every few minutes, this is good, because if there is a problem you lose just a small segment not the entire video. I have not had any corrupted files with camera, but from experience with other cameras I now it can happen. I should note that the camera does not write out files to a standard directories. It creates three directories: event, jpg, and video. It uses JPG directory instead of DCIM for photos.
I received this camera for testing and review as part of a new product introduction. Overall, the camera has its pros and con. Hopefully, the manufacturer will fix the default language in the future versions of the camera, and I provided some help in how to do it now. So the only serious issue here is for the folks in the cold climates is the issue with the mount.
YOu can find K&F Concept Dash Cam on Amazon via this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆