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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Product review: WANLONGXIN 899 USB Charger Portable Multi USB Port Rapid Charger 6 Port USB Socket Fast Charger with LCD Display current monitor

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A geek like me loves chargers that have a built-in meter so I can see how well the charger works. I normally use a hand held current meter, measuring one port at a time. This meter shows me the information for each port at once. To see how well the built-in meter is working I measured the readings with my hand held meter as well as Android apps that show me charging rates on the device itself. The results are not always identical but they are close enough for a good estimate. It is certainly good enough for at home non-scientific applications.

How did it charge? It did really well for all of the Android phones: Nexus 5, Nexus 6p, and Posh phone. It charge iPadMini at 0.93A, which is below optimal. My iPadMini charges the fastest when it can draw more than 1A. Since most of my devices are Android, this charger is a good match for my needs.

The wall charger is 3 3/8 c 3 3/8" x 1 1/2". It has a 57" long AC cord which has has a regular size wall plug. It weighs 8.4 oz.

I have been using this wall charger for several weeks, it is powering devices on each port. It works well well without getting overly hot. I like that it takes up only one slot on my power strip and has a reasonably sized AC cord.

This wall charger was provided for evaluation and review. Getting a sample does effect what I say. I have a history of leaving critical reviews on regular basis whenever 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 ★★★★★

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Product review: PriTek Surge Protector [UL Listed] 6-Outlet Overload Protection Power Strip Charging Station with 4 USB Charging Ports

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This review is for two level power strip with 6 AC outlets and 4 USB ports.

This tower power strip works very well in tight spaces. It has a very small foot print yet accepts large plugs next to each other. The AC outlets are well spaced out. I can plug in several Eneloop battery chargers next to each other without problems. I like the all black color as it makes the power strip almost invisible.

The strip has a 73.5" power cord (not retractable) and a regular size grounded power plug.

I tested the 4 USB ports with a current meter and my Android phone. The phone was charged at the optimal AC rate on each port.

This power strip is provided by Pritek for testing and review. Getting a free product to test does not prevent me from leaving critical reviews when the product warrant it. However, this is not one of them.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Friday, August 26, 2016

Product review: Startreasureland Bath Bomb

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These lavender bath bombs initially have a very strong scent, but once they are dissolved in water the scent it not overpowering and pleasant. I store them in a linen closet to take advantage of their strong scent and muffle the scent in the room at the same time. Each bomb is about the size of a golf ball. Each is a one time use product, the entire bomb fizzes away in about 2 minutes leaving the scented water infused with a moisturizer. I now tried a couple of different bath bombs, some generate bubbles like a bubble bath but these bombs do not. There is a bit of foaming as the bomb fizzes and then the foam quickly disappears. These balls are a little smaller than some others I have tried, but I do not think the size matters, it infuses enough moisturizer. On the positive side I had to wait less time until it all dissolved and the bath water was ready. Overall a very pleasant and relaxing experience.

Each ball is decorated with a dried flower. This gives these bath balls a unique and beautiful look, however I have to remember to remove the flower before tossing the ball into the water to avoid adding stuff that can clog the drain. The balls turn the water fairly deep purple. I was concerned that this bright color will leave stains or will color the shower liner but it did not.

This bath bomb was provided to me for testing and review. Getting a free product does not effect what I say, the review is based purely on my experience with the product. From my history you can see that I leave 1,2,3 star reviews as well as 5 star reviews,. I always try to be fair and honest, include pros and cons as well as video/photos.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Product review: Bestguarder 12MP HD 1080P Outdoor Game & Trail Hunting Camera Scouting Camera

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I am really enjoying this camera. We see a lot of wild life in our area and it is fun to peek into the life of our visitors. The camera is activated only when something is happening, so every video it captures interesting. The battery use is quite good, it recorded a large amount of videos every day on the same set of batteries for almost 2 weeks. On some days 32G of data was recorded at which point the camera stopped recording. In attached video I included videos with the camera mounted in several different locations, during the day and during the night. The camera is mounted on a tripod using the screw on the bottom of the case. The camera is waterproof and has been out in several rain storms without any problems.

The camera runs on eight AA batteries (not included) and you need to provide your own SD card (up to 32G in size). The battery tray opens by pushing a small button in the corner. The camera has a menu driven interface which is well designed and intuitive.

The video quality is good overall, but varies on lighting. Shooting in very bright sunlight overexposes somewhat (I included a sample in the video). The wild life camera also takes infrared pictures in total darkness. I have included a couple of video clips taken at night when the camera switched to infrared. You will be able to recognize those clips because they are black and white.

The camera produces AVI and JPG output.

The camera records 1080P video and images up to 12MP.
* Image Sensor: 12.0 Mega Pixels
* Picture Size: 12MP=4000x3000 / 8MP=3840x2160 / 5MP = 2944x1656
* Video Size: HD:1920x1080,15fps / 1080x720,30fps

I wish 1920x1080 was 30 frames per second rather than 15 fps. My video editing software does not work well with 15 fps and I have to convert the video to 30 fps or shoot in 1080x720. My video includes video shot in both resolutions, but because Amazon compresses videos which degrades the quality of the image you are likely not to see any difference between the videos shot in different formats. The output you see on Amazon is best viewed as a time stamp image, because of the compression the video you see in a blown up image is much worse compared to what you get from the camera.

This camera was provided to me by Bestguarder for testing and review as part of a new product introduction. Getting a discounted product does not effect what I say. I have a history of leaving critical reviews on regular basis every time the product deserves it. Whether I had a good experience or bad experience you will hear exactly what happened. This camera is intuitive to use and produces good video. It is a lot of fun to see see our visitors!


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, August 22, 2016

Product review: Wild-Vision Full HD 5.0 Trail and Game Camera

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We see a lot of wild life in our area and we love watching what our visitors do. I own several wild life cams and this one falls in the middle of the pack. I thought its user interface was not as intuitive to use as my other cameras (I will give some specific examples below), but it records reliably and both video and sound are pretty good. Another area where it did not do as well my other wild cams is the battery life, it lasts about a week on full of new Kirkland's AA batteries where the other camera go between 2 to 3 weeks on the full set of new batteries.

The camera runs on four AA batteries (included) and also has another compartment where you an add four more batteries to extend the period when the new batteries are needed. I run the battery with all 8 batteries installed. The camera writes video to a SD card. A 4G card was included with the camera, and it can accept cards up to 32G in size. I am running it with a 16G card. The camera is activated only when something interesting is happening, so every video it captures has something good on it.

The video quality is highly dependent on lighting. In the day light it is very good, however at dusk or right into the sun it is okay but not outstanding. The wild life camera also takes infrared pictures in total darkness (black and white). I have included a couple of video clips taken at night when the camera switched to infrared. When you see a black and white video that's the one that is taken at night.

This camera is large, robust, has a great camouflaged case. It is waterproof and has been out in several rain storms without any problems.

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 camera produces AVI and JPG output.

Some of the user interface quirks I mentioned earlier:
1. There are two buttons that don't do anything. In particular one looks like you would use to switch from camera to video mode, but this function in reality is controlled from the menu.
2. One of the common operation is formatting the SD card, however on this camera it is difficult to find and how to do this, it is not on the top level of menus like in other cameras. To format the SD card you need to keep hitting up button until you enter the mode that shows you the files on the sd, then if hit menu, you will see an option to delete the file or to format the SD card. I do this every time I move pictures from the camera to the computer.
3. In order to remove the SD card you have to take the camera off the tripod and take it apart. In my other cameras I can remove the SD by flipping the back cover open while the camera is still on the tripod.

In addition to the camera in its waterproof case, the package include USB cable for TV hookup TV cable, a mounting strap, and a user manual. The user manual is good to get you started but does not explain all details, such as how to format the SD card.

Overall, I like the camera. It is a lot of fun to see see our visitors!

This camera is made by Wildkamera in Germany. The camera was provided to me for testing and review as part of the new product introduction as products so people can hear and see some first hand experience. If the fact that I received a product at a discount makes you skeptical about what I say check my review history, I am leave critical reviews when the products deserve it. I state prior to accepting any product that review will be positive or negative strictly based on my experience with the product. I only deal with sellers that are interested in honest and factual reviews. This camera is made in Germany and I was hoping that it would be a Mercedes of my game cams and become my favorite. But I was somewhat disappointed in the battery life and some of the user interface choices. On the positive side it works well and records video reliably. I hope my video helps you set the expectations for how it works.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Product review: Aocome 4 Port Mini USB 3.0 Hub with Individual Power Switches and LEDs






I was looking for a compact 3.0 USB hub with a long cord. And this hub meets these three requirements. The cord is 31 inches. I verified that this hub indeed supports 3.0 USB speeds on each one of the four ports. Attached is a graphic with benchmarks for each of the ports using 3.0 USB card, all benchmarks showed 3.0 USB speed. And its size is fairly compact: 1.75" x 3.75".

I received this hub for evaluation and review. Benchmarks show that the performance meets the specs.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Product review: Lovelyou 12 Pack Mosquito Repellent Bracelets




I used these bracelets for three weeks before I wrote this review to be sure how they work. I like doing gardening in the evenings when it is not hot, but I get eaten by mosquitos when I garden at the end of the day. I would have loved to have an alternative to a bug spray that works. These bracelets have a very nice smell - very lemony. However the radius of their effect is very small. When I put one on my wrist, my legs were still bitten. When I put them around each ankle that seem to help the legs but my arms were bitten. If use 4 at a time - around the ankles and around the wrists it does seem to help to keep mosquitoes from exposed areas. Overall, the bracelets did not work as well as I hoped, they are ok but not great.

The bracelets come individually sealed. Once you open the package the bracelet can be used fro 200 hours (after that it no longer has any scent left). This means each can last about 8 days. Using four at a time they go pretty fast.

The bracelets are stretchy and they will work on children as well as adults. They are small initially. When stretched they are pretty gentle and do not squeeze my wrists or legs.

I received these bracelets for evaluation and review. Getting a review sample does not effect what I say - good or bad. The bracelets did have some effect but with a small radius so they did not work as well as I hoped.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Product review: POSH Mobile Optima L530 5.0" Android phone

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Given the price range this a very decent phone. Its strongest points are bright display, speedy response, and that it comes with a straight Google interface. There is one app made my Posh which cannot be uninstalled but at least it can be disabled. It does not feel as invasive as some other manufactures add-on shells although I would have preferred that it was possible to uninstall it to free up space it is still using.

The weakest points are the battery life and the WI FI speed (it only support 2G band, and not 5G band). To test its WI FI capabilities I run OOKLA speed test and the results were not as good as Nexus 5 because Nexus 5 supports both 2G and 5G bands. I got an average of 37.55 Mbps upload and 30.08 Mbps download. For comparison, my best results with Nexus 5 for download is 57.96 Mbps and upload is 57.94 Mbps (placing both devices at the same distance from the wireless router).

Here an example of battery use running a photo app. I started taking photos with this phone with the battery at 78% at 4:30pm. I took 88 photos, no videos. At 6:00 the battery was 24%.

The camera on the phone is quite good. In the video you see a collage of photos taken under various conditions: day, night, high contrast, sunny and shade. The photos are not retouched in any way they are exactly as they came out of the camera app.

The speaker on this phone is good but not outstanding. I was told I sound clear on the other end of the phone conversation, the sound on my end was slightly tinny but clear. Playing music on the phone sounds ok, but the sound is not rich and full like it is on Nexus 6p but then so is the Nexus 6p price.

I was able to pair a bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth speakers without any problems.

Posh smart phone has a nice form factor it is 5.75" x 2.75" x 0.25" and weighs 5.2 oz. The package included a gel shell which fits it perfectly.

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

The phone is running Android 5.1 (Android Lollipop) operating system. The latest Android release is Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Overall, this is pretty nice phone given its price range. It scores well on the two key features: easy to read display and speedy response. Some of the cons I listed in this review are preventing me from giving it 5 stars, but it is a solid 4 star.

This phone is provided by Posh for evaluation 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 ★★★★☆

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Product review: Fleemy 16GB Digital Voice Activated Recorder MP3 Player Dictaphone Dual Microphone

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I have reviewed several voice recorders in this price range over the last few years. All of the reviews have been rather critical - the quality of the recording, the user interface, and the readability of the screen were the three main weaknesses I saw. Even though this recorder is not perfect, it is better in each of these three categories than the other voice recorders I have reviewed.

Sound recording
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I found that most recorders did okay with voice (for recording say lectures) but they could not record music without major distortions. In attached video I include segments with voice and music. I thought Fleemy recorder did a reasonable job on both.

Other recorders not only distorted the sound, but recorded noise every time I touched the recorder (to re-position it, look at the screen, or adjust its buttons). Fleemy recorder does not record noise when I touch the recorder.

User interface
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The user interface is menu driven, up and down navigation is done by dedicated up and down buttons. Navigation is intuitive. However when you need to make changes (rather than just navigate to look) the experience is not as good because the use of buttons is not consistent. For example, the menu and a stop button both are used to confirm your selection depending on what menu you are on. I found myself having to repeat the same operation multiple times to accomplish my goal. However, I thought it was still better than other recorders I have tried because the navigation itself was clear and easy. The most common function - start recording and end recording are simple.

Display
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The screen display - the clarify of the information and how it is display is quite good. Much better than other recorders in this price range that I have used.

Accessing the recording
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There are several ways to access the recording. You can do playback on the recorder itself (it has a built-in speaker). Alternatively you can use listen to it using enclosed ear phones. You can also attach the recorder via USB cable to a computer and then the built-in SD appears as just another disk drive from which the files can be copied or deleted. The recording played on the recorder is not as good as listening on it on a computer with good speaker, but certainly good enough to check if things are being recorded.

Modes
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The recorder has several modes. It can record continuously, Activated Voice recording starts recording when sound reaches a certain decibel level, Track on file is saved when no sound is detected. It does not have a feature to start recording on schedule. I would love to see this feature in future releases.

Overall, it is a decent sound recorder. I received the recorder for testing and review. I state prior to accepting any product that review will be positive or negative strictly based on my experience with the product. Many of previous sound recorder reviews has been very critical. However, this sound recorder does a reasonable job for this price range. I hope my video helps you set the expectations for how it works.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Friday, August 12, 2016

Product review: Solar Powered Mosquitto Killer Lamp,Kumeda Bug Zapper,Fly Zapper Insect Killer Lights







If you think this mosquito killer will exterminate every mosquito in sight you will be disappointed. However, it is capable of killing them. When some insect gets into the wires the lamp generates a loud pop. I have this zapper mounted below our bedroom windows for almost three weeks and every night I hear occasional pops. It is not continuous, so it is not attracting a lot of mosquitoes but some are better than none.

I was not sure how well this bug zapper will work because the light it generates was not super bright. It blue and similar in brightness to garden lights. However, a few minutes after I put it down for the first time I was startled by a loud popping noise. It was a sound of a bug getting zapped. So it is bright enough for at least some bugs.

The zapper has two ways of recharging - it has a solar panel on the top and it also has a USB port for charging from electricity. It also has two ways of mounting: a stake that goes in the ground, and screws that allow it to be mounted on a wall. For the three weeks I have it out in the garden it has been running solely on solar power. It is facing south-west so it is in the sun for large portion of the day.

I was provided a free review sample with a request for an honest review. Bottom line that it does work, but not as effectively as one might hope.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Product review: Swrisnt Portable Digital Android USB Microscope Endoscope Inspection Camera

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In order to use the microscope one need to down load an app for the phone (or the desktop). The instructions lead you to download the app from the company's unsafe web site. However Googleplay app store has many other apps that support a USB Boroscopes. Downloading apps from untrusted websites is unsafe, only use GooglePlay and Amazon stores to get Android apps they provide some level of protection from infecting your whole home network.

Eventually the seller got his app called "Teslong Camera" into GooglePlay, but while he was working on it I found a much better app called MScopes for USB Camera. I like that it allows me to record video and photos produced by Boroscope. Overall, it is a more sophisticated app that "Teslong Camera".

As you see in attached video the camera works. The images and video are not super great quality, but if you are trying to see something that you can't see otherwise it is helpful. The camera has small LEDs on the tip so it will light what it is looking at. The camera is hard to control if it is any distance away from you or if you are just dangling it by the cord. It comes with a few attachments which I thought further degraded the image, however one of them - a mirror - might be useful if you need to look "around the corner".

Bottom line? Not as good as one might hope but useful for taking a look at those hard to reach places.

I was provided the microscope for review as part of new product introduction. I thought the boroscope in combination with MScopes app from Googleplay worked pretty well. Teslong Camera app still needs work. And documentation has to be fixed to lead people to Googpleplay not another website.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★☆

Monday, August 8, 2016

Product review: LETSCOM RSK-4U 25W 4-Port USB Chargers,Portable Multi-Port Wall Chargers




I used USB current monitor to verify that this charger is capable of charging four mobile devices at the same time at the AC rate. I tested two different phones on all four ports, and then verified that the rate remained the same when I added a device on each port.

The wall charger is fairly compact - 3.125" x 2.5" x 1". The reason I was interested in it is the long cord, as I need to place it in a location which is a few fairly far from the outlet. The cord is 45" and has a regular size wall plug.

I have been using this wall charger for several weeks, it is powering devices on each port. It works well well without getting warm. I like that it takes up only one slot on my power strip.

This wall charger was provided for evaluation and review. Getting a sample does effect what I say. I have a history of leaving critical reviews on regular basis whenever 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 ★★★★★



Saturday, August 6, 2016

Product review: Kealive Makeup Mirror, Vanity Mirror with lights, Magnifying Mirror with Table Lamps

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The light produced by the right of this mirror is quite dim. I do not perceive any extra lighting unless my nose almost touches the mirror. Yes, I tried several sets of fresh batteries. I measured the light produced by the mirror with a lux meter (which measured light intensity) to give a numeric assessment of its brightness rather than just my perception.

- This mirror at 19" registers only as 2.8 lux
- This mirror at 13" registers only as 17.5 lux
For comparison a 60 watt CFL bulb produces 511 lux at 19".

So given that this mirror does not light anything, how does it work like a plain mirror? The mirror is clear and the stand is solid. The mirror surface is fairly small - it is 4.25" across (just the mirror part, not counting the frame and the ring of lights).

Bottom line? As a lighted mirror I did not find it useful, as a regular mirror it is ok but it is a little bulky compared to a non-lighted mirror of a similar mirror size.

I received this mirror for evaluation and review. Getting a free product does not prevent me from speaking honestly and being critical when the product deserves it.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Product review: Balichun 13.2-Gallon/ 50L Infrared Touchless Trash Can

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This listing combines several trash cans and my review is for the taller model. The trash can body is made out a thin sheet of stainless steel. The top and bottom of the trash can were well protected with foam, but the sides were not and it arrived with several small dents located on one side of the trash can. The dents do not prevent the trash can from functioning but they do detract from the overall look.

The outside dimensions of the trash can are:
32" height (tallest side) x 12.75" width x 9.5" depth (with cover on)
38.5" height with the lid open (this is the minimum clearance needed if the can is under something)
26.5" height (with the cover removed)

The opening is 10.5" wide and 6" front to back. In practical terms the size of this opening is such that a dinner sized paper plate of 9" in diameter can be deposited without bending width-wise, but has to angled down since the front to back is 6" and is narrower than 9".

I am using a 13 gallon Kirkland Signature Drawstring Kitchen trash bag in it. The bag does not reach the bottom of the can and I am planning to buy larger bags for it. The trash can comes with a handy ring, which allows me to neatly tuck in the trash bag inside the can.

The battery compartment is under the cover, so it is easy to reach and easy to change batteries. It runs on four AA batteries which are not included.

The Trash Can automatic opening mechanism is rather sensitive. I reacts to my hand when it is 8" above or 8" in front. I don't walk right next to it I am able to go by without accidental activation.

This trashcan received for evaluation and review. We have been using the trash can for two weeks as I write this review. Other than the cosmetic damage during shipping I had no issues with the trash can. The can itself works well, but the packaging requires improvement to avoid dents in shipping.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Product review: Cotton Candy (9 Fluffs - 20 Oz) - Lebanon Fairy Floss

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I have had cotton candy as a kid, but I have never tried anything like this. Its flavor is not just sweet it tastes like pistachio nuts. The texture is light and airy and it is a little messy to eat because the strands fall apart but that is part of the fun. It is sweet and nutty flavor and I loved it. I am a tea drinker and I use this cotton candy to replace sugar I normally take with my tea. Very yummy!

How to store it for the (brief) period it is not consumed? I asked manufacturer this question and got the answer that the cotton candy should be kept dry and cool. The temperature should below 68ºF and I store it in the refrigerator.

I received this box of candy for taste test and review as part of the new product introduction. It is different from anything I have tried before and I liked it.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★

Monday, August 1, 2016

Product review: Formeu Girls' Cotton Two Stripe Casual School Crew Socks 5 Pack



I have small feet (shoe size 7 or 7.5) and finding socks that fit perfectly is not always easy. The most common size socks are a little large on me (heel is slightly in a wrong place). These socks are perfect! If you have small feet these socks are exactly right.

These socks are made out of a blend of 85% Cotton / 12% Polyester / 3% Spandex. The socks end 3" above my ankle. In my photos I show the socks inside out so you can see the construction. Looking at any garment inside out really tells you about the quality of the constructions. These socks look very neat, they low flat seams and no bulges at the toes. I have worn them for a few weeks, so they have been through a couple of laundry cycles and they still look good.

I have a pet peeve when vendors stable the socks through the center with a staple gun, often this weakens the threads and can creates holes. These were NOT stapled, instead they were held together a paper sleeve that holds them in a tight bundle. I was happy to see that the socks were not stapled.

These socks are provided by Formeu for evaluation with a request to test the fit for American market. If you skeptical about my review because I received a sample for review, I invite you to examine my reviews to see that I leave critical reviews when the products deserve it. I like these socks, if you have small feet you will like how they fit.


You can find it on Amazon by following this link.


Ali Julia review ★★★★★