Saturday, July 30, 2016

Product review: AVACRAFT Modern High Quality 18/10 Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set with Lids

This is a nice set of stainless steel bowls! The set includes three bowls and lids. Each bowl has a handle and beak for pouring. All three bowls have a silicone base (non-slip bottoms). They bowls fit into each other for storage.

Large bowl: 9.5" diameter x 5.5" deep
Medium bowl: 8" diameter x 4.75" deep
Small bowl: 6.5" diameter x 4" deep

I received this set of bowls for testing and review. Overall, nice set of size - good sizes, well made, I like them!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Product review: Esy-life Portable Microwave Cart Functional Microwave Rack Pantry Cart Kitchen Cart on Wheels, Stainless Steel

This listing combines several styles of carts. I got style-1 cart which is a tall cart on wheels. When it arrived I thought the shelves were white and with a sloppy finish because the white "finish" was a bit rubbed off on the edges. Turned out, however, that the white stuff is a thin protective film covering the stainless steel shelves. The film is attached very firmly and it takes quite a bit of work to remove it. But the work is worth it as when it is removed it reveals an attractive finish of the textured stainless steel shelves. The shelves are solid (i.e. not a mesh or grid).

My package included four shelves and 12 supports. The instructions are entirely in Chinese, although the pictures were helpful to figure out the recommended order of assembly. The shelves can be mounted in several ways. If you want to have 4 shelves with a guard rail on each shelf, use 3 horizontal bars on each level (two to hold a shelf and one as guard on the long side. I decided that I do not want a guard rail so I can place things with a slight overhang, so I mounted the shelf on the top supports. I also needed to forego the bottom shelve to fit the cart where I wanted it to be. I thought it was nice that the cart gives one quite a bit of flexibility on how to assemble it.

I am pleased with this cart. It is sturdy and was fairly easy to put together. I first screwed in all supports to one side, then all supports to the second side. Even though the shelves are metal, you have to "stretch" them over the support rails. Once the lip of the shelf is over the support rail it held in place firmly. After the shelves were on, I put the cart on its side and screwed in the wheels. Each of four wheels has a lock so it does not move unless I want it to move.

The cart size is: 21.6"L x 13.8"W x 47.2"H.

This shelf was provided to me for evaluation and review. Getting a sample does effect what I say. I have a history of leaving critical reviews every time the product deserves it. I review each product as if I spent the full price, whether it was good or bad you will hear exactly what my experience has been. I hope my assembly tips will help over come the Chinese manual, which is the only negative thing about this cart.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Product review: Homdox Day Clock, Memory Loss Digital Calendar Day Clock - 8" Extra Large Non-Abbreviated Day & Month, Great for Seniors Elderly

I got this clock my eldery mother, who began loosing track of what day of the week it is. This clock display the day of the week (spelling out Monday, Tuesday, etc) as well as time and date.

The first thing that made a good impression was the fact that it showed the right time and date when I turned it on. I did not have to change anything. I unplugged and plugged it back in, it still shows the right time. Perfect for my mother, I don't want her to worry about resetting it if she has to unplug the clock to move it. There are several options of what the clock can display, I liked the default which shows everything.

The size of the clock is 8.5" x 7", 1.5", the size of tme is 1.5". The numbers and letters are large and clear. She will be able to see it from a distance. The face of the clock does not reflect light.

The clock runs from AC and comes with fairly long cord (69" inches). It has two mounting options: a stand to make it a table top and a key hole in the back so it can be hung on the wall.

If you have an elderly parent this clock is perfect. But it not only for elderly, I think it is nicer than just about any other digital clock I have because its visibility during the day and during the night is so good.

I received this clock for evaluation and review. Getting a product for review does not influence me in any way, I leave critical reviews every week when products deserve it. However, this clock exceeded my expectations.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Product review: Fake TV, GOLDSTAR US-GS21 Home Security TV Simulator

When I go away I always leave a radio and lights attached to a timer. This a nice addition to my "lived-in" look for the house. This gizmo is a small light. It is smaller than I imagined from looking at the stock photo. It is only 3.125" X 2.25" X 2.5" in size.

It has 4 settings
~ off
~ on
~ 4 hour after dusk
~ 8 hours after dusk.

When it is on it generates irregular patterns of lighting like a TV would. If you aim it at the wall near a window it looks like someone is watching TV. I do not aim it at the window because then the spot light is too small to be realistic. However when I am it at the wall the reflections off the wall give a bigger image, like a real size TV. It is also important to make sure that the light itself is not visible through the window because then the fakery is obvious. I put it below the window level. And if it comes from the general area where the TV is normally located then it has the desired effect.

I received this fake TV for evaluation and review. Getting a discounted item for testing does not bias me, I have a long history of writing critical reviews when the products deserve it. This is a very simple gizmo that works well. At the end of my video I show what it looks like from outside, so you can decide for yourself it is realistic or not.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, July 22, 2016

Product review: Rii K25 3 in 1 Multifunction Portable 2.4GHz Mini Wireless Fly Mouse Keyboard

I use an air mouse with my Android TV every week. I have tried several designs of air mice and the older version of this Rii mouse has been my favorite for several yeas. My only complaint about the previous version of this air mouse was the click button was not the large ok button but a smaller button below it. This minor annoyance has been corrected in this version and the most common function is now controlled by the big OK button (easy to find even in a dark room).

This air mouse is shaped like a TV remote control: it is 6.75" long and 1.875" wide and 0.375" thick. One side of remote has all the mousing functionality and the TV remote functions, the other side has a QWERTY keyboard.

Air mouse comes with a wireless USB 2.0 receiver dongle (nano style) that plugs into a USB port. Then all I have to is aim the remote at the screen of my TV (while it is in HDMI mode set to my Android TV) and I can move the mouse my just moving the remote. The control is very good, it did not take me any time to get used to it. The remote also has other functions such as home, next previous screen, back, volume up and down and so forth. I was able to operate it from as far as I could go in the room (it is rated for 10 meters which is 30 feet).

My only remaining small complaint is that the dongle has a plain black back. It has no name printed so it looks just like any dongle and I have quite a few of them. To fix this problem I attached a handwritten label of my own to back of the receiver. It is not pretty but functional. I learned from experience that these labels really help down the road.

The keyboard keys have a nice feel (hard rubber) and good feedback (mechanical type click). It is a full QWERTY keyboard with letters and numbers.

IR remote can be trained to know some of the functions of your TV remote. To get into learning mode you need to press a "SET" button on the IR remote for 4 seconds. When if flash light once, aim it at the your TV remote and press the button you want to assign a function on your IR remote, it will flash two short blinks followed by a long one to indicate it is in learning mode. The press the button on the original TV remote. IR remote will flash three short blinks followed by a long one to indicate that the function was assigned. You can repeat this operate for all the keys you want to use on the IR remote to control your TV. The two remote controls need to close to each other (2.5" or less). To end the training session you need to press SET key (or do not press nay keys for 10 seconds or more)

Insert USB receiver into a USB port on the device. No other action is needed. The air mouse was immediately recognized.

Air mouse has a built-in Lithium-ion battery. It is charged by a standard micro USB to USB cable. The device can be used while the battery is charging. When the battery is low, the low-voltage light blinks to give a warning. My old Rii air mouse needed to be charged once a month. So far this remote still runs on the original charge (15 days and counting.)

I received this air mouse for testing and review from the manufacturer. It feels solidly made, it works flawlessly, and I like the button layout better than the previous air mouse that has been my favorite for a couple of years.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Product review: 50 Feet Expanding Garden Hose with Triple Layer Latex Core

I have been using flexible hoses for three summers. They are great to work with - they are light and when empty become very short. However they are fragile. I have gone through a few of them. The main thing to know is that you cannot treat them the same as a regular garden hose. They are more fragile and require more care.

This hose has brass connectors which give me a good no leak connection. I also like that i has a shut off valve built into the hose. So far I have been using it for two weeks - garden stuff and washing my car, so far so good. No leaks.

Through experience I learned to take the following precautions:
1. When I use the hose I do not put the water pressure all the way up, I open the faucet at about half force (my water pressure is quite strong).
2. When I store the hose, I store it a bucket and bring it inside so it does not sit in the sun. Because they are light it really not difficult.
3. I make sure there it has no pressure on any part of the hose. I never hang it like I do with regular hoses. Even a 100 foot flexible hose fits into a regular size bucket, this 50 feet hose is only 17 feet when it is empty.
4. Before storing the hose I drain it completely
5. When I use it I make sure I don't step on it and it does not tangle on anything. I lay it out straight toward the area that I need to water then fill it with water, then stretch to full length.

Yes, it is a lot of extra care but I really like that it is so light which makes it easier on my bad back.

Also included in the package is a sprayer. The sprayer is a tupical 8-setting sprayer, however its "mist" setting does not mist it looks like a weak shower isntead. The nozzel has flow control (works well) and a loop that keeps the nozzle sparying without having to hold down the handle (a little finicky, not as smooth as my other nozzles).

The package also includes a bracket for hanign the hole. As I mentioned earlier I never hang the hose to avoid putting pressure on a small section of the house, but I found the bracket useful for other things I want to hang in my garden.

I received this flex hose for testing and review. Getting a sample does effect what I say. I have a history of leaving critical reviews when the product deserves it. Whether I had a good experience or bad experience you will hear exactly what happened.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, July 18, 2016

Product review: 19mm 100% Premium Luxury Pure Mulberry Silk Pillowcase with Cotton Underside

 I love silk pillow cases and the silk on this pillowcase is very nice. I also like the zipper closure. The reason I am not ranking this pillow case as outstanding is that one side of it is a beautiful blue color, but the other side is white. Since pillows are not flat both sides are visible so it does not look as nice as if both sides were the same color. I do not mind one side being cotton, but I wish these pillows can be made in a way that the cotton side matches the silk side in color.

The description mentions the "cotton underside". What it means is that one side is silk and other other side is cotton. Even though I prefer all silk pillowcases, I don't mind the cotton side, I just do not like the white color.

My favorite feature of this pillowcase is the zipper closure. It keeps the pillow inside the pillow case. The pillow case is a better fit for a queen size pillow. It is 19.75" x 29.5" (measured after washing). It has a bit of loose flap on a standard pillow, but because it has a zipper closure it is a better fit than a loose evenlope closure. The zipper is neatly hidden so you can't see it, you can see just the pull.

I hand washed the pillow case to check for colorfastness. The pillow case is colorfast. Most of the time I don't iron, it looks fine to me right out of laundry with a small amount of wrinkles, however if you prefer the ironed looked it is best to turn the pillow inside out and iron from reverse side on the silk setting of the iron.

This pillow case is provided for testing and review. I hope describing and showing the "cotton underside" is helpful to avoid surprises. I love the zipper closure and the silk quality is very nice. The white underside prevents me from ranking it as excellent.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Product review: ABUSA Women's Birkenstock-style Gizeh Leather Flip Flops

I normally wear size 7.5 shoes and ordered these sandles in size 8. The sandals are true to size, I have a little bit of room in the heel area as I would expect a size 8 to fit on my foot. The sole of the shoe is very comfortable. It is not flat but is shaped to my foot with some arch support, a small upswing near the toes, and so forth. This makes them very comfortable. The leather strap between the toes is just right, not too tight and not too loose.

The upper is made out real leather, the sole is a man made material. The sole has some ribbing for traction. I show the shoes upside down in the photos so you see what it looks like.

These sandals were provided to several experienced reviewers by ABUSA as part of the new product introduction. Originally these sandals are made in China for the Chinese market. ABUSA requested me to evaluate the fit and comfort for an American marketplace. I have been wearing these sandals for two weeks - they are comfortable, I have no problems wearing them all day.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Product review: Sandyshow New Lily Queen Size 4pc 3d Painted Bedlinen Quilt Duvet Bedding Sets

I liked the bold design of this duvet cover. In person the colors of the duvet look different from the stock photo, there are a lot more dark brown colors on the side that is not visible in the stock photo. One third of the duvet is deep brown, the middle has lilies, and one third is the green you see in the stock photos. The duvet cover and the flat sheet have the same design. I show the entire length of the duvet in my photos.

The fabric is a blend of cotton and polyester (65% cotton and 35% polyester). The material is thick and soft. The stock photo made me think that the fabric is satiny and shiny but it is neither. Because it is a blend of cotton and polyester when it comes out of the dryer it is almost wrinkle free.

The design is printed on the top side of the fabric. In my photos I show the reverse side and you can see what it looks like on the other side.

The pillow cases are made to fit queen size pillow so there are a bit too loose on our standard size pillows. I pinch the extra material in one of the photos to demonstrate the fit. The pillow cases have deep pockets so it holds the standard pillow fine.

I ran the first wash of the duvet cover set with a color catcher. The color catcher caught only slight amount of color, it was much more colorfast than I expected given the deep colors of the duvet. I expect after a few more washes the color catcher will not catch any color at all.

I like that the duvet cover closes with a zipper rather than buttons. It looks much straighter and neater. It is also faster to close than doing individual buttons.

I received this duvet cover for evaluation as part of a new product introduction. I like it - bold colors and I like the zipper closure. The description could benefit from additional stock photo (as I write this review there is just one). I hope my photos will provide clarity of the colors, as the brown portion was a surprise (but not a deal breaker) for me.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Product review: ProGreen 85-265V 9W E26 LED Lighting Bulb, 70W Incandescent Bulbs Equivalent, Not Dimmable

I often don't know exactly what I will get until I am able to turn on the bulb. To show what these bulbs look like I show them side by side with a 60 watt fluorescent bulb in the light fixture. This allows me to compare the brightness, the color as well as the size of the spot light these bulbs generate.

To keep the desk lamp in the same position I use a 19 inch ruler to insure that the shade of the lamp is exactly in the same distance from the desk. I also used a lux meter (which measures light intensity) to measure the amount of light I get at this 19 inch distance. Lux meter gives me an unbiased measurement of brightness in addition to a visual comparison. By the way, I have tested the brightness of CFL and incandescent bulbs and they very similar in brightness. I am using CFL for convenience as we no longer use incandescent bulbs.

The lux meter shows that the LED light produced significantly more light than the 60-watt bulb (781 lux for the LED bulb and 511 lux for the CFL bulb). LED bulb is brighter, CFL bulb is slightly warmer, the shadows are similar.

This bulb is shaped as an incandescent bulb, has the same size as an incandescent bulb, and casts omni directional light similar to an incandescent bulb. This bulb comes on instantly. It is not dimmable.

These LED bulbs are provided by Progreen for testing and review as part of the new product introduction. This is a nice set of bulbs! The bulbs are quite bright and looks very similar to the good ol' incandescent.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Product review: BUJIAN T1-6C Dual USB Ports Cooling Pad for 15.6" Automatic Speed radiator and 5 Levels Multi-angle Stand 2"x 6 Fans

I have a lot of experience with cooling pads. I am a software engineer and have a lot of laptops, netbooks, and other computers I need for testing tightly packed on a computer rack so they are all sitting on cooling pads. The good news about this cooling pad that it is very quiet and I like the 6 fans providing even flow over a large surface. However, I could not the smart function to work. I even contacted the manufacture to see why after installing it does absolutely nothing no matter what the computer does, and the communication was very frustrating due to a language barrier. The only answer I got is Windows 10 and iOS are not supported, when I asked what operating systems were supported I got the same answer about Windows 10 and iOS over and over.

However, automatic adjustments are not all that useful. I just used the manual control to set the cooling pad to the maximum speed and given how quiet it is I know it is doing the best it can.

A cooling fan does not have to blow hard to do its job. The cooling pad's job is to create circulation. The air should blow towards the computer you trying to cool. How well it cools depends not on the power of the cooling pad but on the amount of the ventilation holes in the computer case as well as how clean the ventilation holes are. If your computer is overheating vaccum the ventilation holes. My computers ventilation holes get covered with dust quickly even though I think our house is cleaned well. Thise vents just suck in air with dust and get clogged.

It is best when computer CPU core temperature is under 50°C, if it is in the range of 50°C it is a sign of not sufficient cooling, if it is the in 60°C or higher it shortens the life expectancy of the computer components.

Number of fans:____ 6
Air flow:__________ variable flow from low medium to high
Cord:______________ detachable USB cord
On/Off switch:_____ yes (fan speed control)
Size:______________ 14.5"L x 10.75"W x ?"H (when not raised)
Noise:_____________ very quiet
Color:_____________ black case, blue LEDs when the fans are on
Feet:______________ Has rubber pads
Stand:_____________ adjustable bracket
Flaws observed:___ Smart function does not work
___ Portions of the display are in Chinese language
___ The temperature is in Celsius only
USB ports:________ Has two USB ports, one used to power it another is free for other use
Packaging:________ English manual included, but the manual is poorly written

So far (continuous use of several weeks) the fans are operating quietly. Attached video shows the cooling pad in operation, I hope it helps to illustrate my review.

This cooling pad is provided by Bujian. Getting an evaluation sample does not influence what I say, I always state before accepting a product that the review will be positive or critical based only on how well the product performs. The auto functionality did not work, but since I can consider it minor feature I am knocking off just one star as the manual mode works well.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, July 8, 2016

Product review: Urhome Personal Fans 3 Modes Mini Dual Head Table Fans Indoor/Outdoor Portable Rechargeable Fans for Home Office Patio Beach Camping Blue

This small fan has two heads which can be rotated and positioned independently from each other. They can blow in the same or different directions as needed. I use it in a window to improve circulation, it does a pretty nice job for such a small fan. I use it plugged in. If it is not plugged in it works for only for a few hours (2 hours on high setting, around 3 hours on medium, and around 5 hours on low), which might be okay for some situations but not how I use it.

The fan has three speeds. On low speed it is pretty much silent and on a high speed you can here it a little bit. To turn it on you need to hold the on button for a few seconds, quick presses (once it is on) change the speed. It runs from USB source which means it can run from an external battery. With a large battery it can run for several days without electricity.

The only negative thing about the fan is that a super bright LED light when it is turned on. I covered the LED light with black electric tape, but the body still glows fairly brightly. For me it means I cannot use it in the bed room, as we like it keep the room as dark as possible. I do not understand why some vendor think making appliances that glow brightly is a good thing! If it can glow brightly, it should have a switch that makes it possible to turn it off.

This fan is provided by UrHome for testing and review. I described pluses and minuses of my experience. Since I use the fan in the window the bright blue light attracts bugs and the tiny ones manage to get through the window screen. For this reason I need to turn the fan off in the evenings and this is the reason for "OK" rating. It works well in the day time, but the bright light makes it unpleasant to use it at night.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Product review: 100 feet flat garden hose by GOFLY

This is a very unusual water hose in many ways. I was attracted to it because it is flat and long. I need a 100 foot hose and this 100 foot hose does not take much space. However this hose did not live up to my expectations.

I did not expect that I had to assemble the hose. The connectors can assembled only one way, so there is no benefit to the customer to have to connect the hose to the connectors. If I did not have experience with drip irrigation I would have found this task difficult, but I knew that dipping the hose into very hot water will make it more pliable and easier to pull it on the metal connector.

However, this extra work is not the worst part of the hose. It comes with connectors that are not designed for American hose connectors. The hose is meant to connect to a faucet. I disassembled one of the fitting which made it go on to the male hose connector, but only with two revolutions (rather than the normal 5-6 revolutions) and this was not enough to form a leak proof connection even with Teflon tape. I had a fountain at the connection point as soon as I turned on water. This hose is made in China and originally targeted for Chinese market, so I am guessing they are using a different standard for garden hoses.

The hose length is 100 feet and the nozzle feels pretty solid, however since I can't attach it to the water source without a major leak I am not able to use it.

I received this hose at no cost for evaluation and review as part of the new product introduction on Amazon. Unfortunately, the connectors it comes with are not a good fit for a typical gardener.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★☆☆☆

Monday, July 4, 2016

Product review: Skyhawk Quilter's Ruler Combo Pack - 24-Inch-by-6-1/2-Inch and 9-1/2-Inch-by-9-1/2-Inch quilting rulers

I am experienced quilter and Skyhawk folks clearly know what quilters need in the rulers.

' The rulers has a lot of lines and the lines are in yellow and black so it works well on dark and light fabrics. In my photos I show it on black and white fabric so you can see how well the lines show up.
' The numbers appears on all four sides of the ruler so I can tell at a glace if my fabric is lined up correctly
' Has lines for 30, 45, and 60 degree angles
' Has a hole for hanging, so I can store it on my craft pegboard

A simple product but well made with attention to details.

Skykawk was looking for an experienced quilter to evaluate their new product. I reviewed one of their products in the past and they provided me a sample to evaluate these rulers. I give them thumbs up!

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Product review: LongMing 26Nm/2 Worsted 100% Cashmere Yarn

The yarn in this listing is 100% cashmere and is very fine: one ply thread creates a lacy look and two-ply creates a more dense knit. After making a couple of samples (see video) I decide I like the two-ply look better. The yarn is easy to work with, it does not tear easily and does not knot. It feels soft, but it is not fuzzy. This is because this is a worsted thread. The difference between the worsted yarn and the woolen yarn are the length of the staple in the wool. Worsted yarns look smooth with long fibers, and woolen yarns are much hairier, with lots of short fibers and more hairs poking out. Worsted wool is slick when woven, woolen wool is are softer, fluffier fabric. Worsted wool is better at keeping out the wind and rain, but woolen wool is warmer, because it is full of air which acts as insulation.

I make sample squares before knitting each garment not only to see how it looks but to determine how many stitches I need for the right size:
~~ two ply yarn 30 stitches gives me 5.5" (5.5 stitches per inch)
~~ one ply yarn 30 stitches gives me 4.5" (6.5 stitches per inch)

In attached photos you see the sweater that it still in progress, but there is enough of it there to see how it will look. I am using two threads of yarn (one thread is purple and one thread is blue) and it is looking nice, I think. The sweater feels soft to touch.

I received this yarn for evaluation and review. Getting a discounted product does not influence what I saw. If you are skeptical about this examine the history of my reviews and see that I leave critical reviews when products deserve it. After working with this yarn for several weeks I can say that I am really enjoying working with it and the sweater is beginning to take shape.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★★