Saturday, June 27, 2015

Non-Contact Thermometer by Easy@Home

Easy@Home Non-contact Thermometer at Amazon

There's no denying that contact-less thermometers are handy. I've used a few but you should always make sure to have different kinds available in certain cases. I think this thermometer is one of those. Our baby happened to have a slight fever tonight so I took the opportunity to compare the reading this gave to another thermometer. It seemed to be low by a few tenths which may be acceptable in cases but be aware. When using the room temp function it tended to read a little high. Fortunately it does have a calibration feature that isn't to hard to use.

Build- I feel like the device could be a little more sturdy. When holding it you can tell it is plastic and it gives a little when squeezing it. The infrared sensor cannot have glass over it to work so it's good to see they inset it into the body so it should stay protected. The case should also be mentioned: While it takes up about twice as much space as the thermometer itself, it should protect everything fine, even from some bouncing around.

Function- As I said accuracy seems to suffer a little. The calibration helps but I wonder if different environments might require a re-calibration. Use is dead simple. Press the button, see what the temp is. You get three modes which comes in handy if you need to check other things too. My favorite feature is the mute button. If you have to check a sleeping child it means they won't wake up at the sound of the status beeps.

For a general purpose measurement device this could certainly work. I do recommend though that you test it against a few other sources at home and calibrate before relying on it. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

FSL Patriot hearing protection

FSL Patriot Electronic Earmuff  on Amazon

I wanted to love these, I really did. After a bit of testing at the range I can say they work, but I don't know if I could say I would highly recommend these over other brands. Still, please read the whole review before making a decision. They are at the lower end of the spectrum price wise so it is really up to the reader to decide what they are looking for. If your needs are basic hearing protection but you'd like the benefit of still hearing whats going on around you, these could certainly work.

Construction- This is really where the muffs fall short. There just isn't a build feature that I like but then, looking good isn't their first use anyway. The body is made of a basic glossy plastic. I think it's think enough that it will stand up to tossing around but not much more. The top padding is sufficient as most of the weight is held on the cups, but the outer covering is straight out of the 70's making me wonder how long it will be before it will dry out and crack. Other design elements that I'm not a fan of are the microphone and the wires. Both of these just sort of hang out there just begging to catch on something and break. Now that we've got through all that, I do have to say that they ARE comfortable. Not too heavy and the ear padding is enough that I've worn them for a few hours with no issues.

Function- Do they dampen outside sound and protect your hearing? Absolutely! That's why it's so hard for me to give this three stars instead of four. They actually do better passively than a set of Ryobi Tek4 muffs by a small margin. The electronic sound pass through works well to the point that it will amplify almost more than you want. The cut-out when there is a loud sound has the slightest delay that it's sometimes noticeable, but not enough that you have to worry about your hearing.

Again, these aren't perfect, but depending on who you are they may be what you need. For the budget conscious, certainly useable. Someone who wants the absolute best? I just can't say that these fit that bill. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Easy@Home blood pressure monitor

Easy@Home Blood Pressure Monitor on Amazon

Check out my video review here

I'm always weary about giving 5 stars, especially when the product already has a full complement of them, but I honestly couldn't think of anything to complain about. Maybe how much it costs? But really it is priced very comparably to other monitors with a similar feature set. In the box you get a case, the monitor, the cuff, and 4 AA batteries. I'm not sure why everyone is saying AAA as you can see in my video review that they aren't.

 Form- Everything included seems well made. The monitor itself is plastic but it doesn't seem flimsy at all. The cuff has a large amount of good velcro and the oval ring is a strong piece of steel. The weakest part is probably the cuff tube but as long as you don't have kids yanking on it(by keeping it in the case for instance) it will hold up just fine. The screen has large numbers that are easy to read and helpful colors that help to alert the user of possible problems if a reading is too high.

Function- The best reference you'll get is from my wife who is a RN. She took my blood pressure the manual was and came up with almost the exact results. She thought is was neat and would be very useful so someone who doesn't have a nurse around. The best part is the simplicity of use. Put the cuff on, press start, and wait for the results. There are only three buttons and the most important is big and centered so teaching someone to use it should be a breeze. The ability to have multiple users is a useful feature when it comes to the memory so results don't get mixed up. Speaking of the memory, it is a must have feature! Being able to look through a history of results means you can look for trends by day to see if you can pinpoint a trigger of high pressure. The average of the last 3 readings also gets rid of any errors you may introduce by moving for instance. One thing to note, when the numbers are counting up they will go past your actual reading so don't panic when they get high unless they stay that way at the end.

It's not like a have a collection of blood pressure monitors but if you can't find anything wrong, why get another one? Lets be honest, this will often be used by older adults and it hits all the requirements: dead simple operation, large numbers, easy to understand colors, and most importantly accuracy. I highly recommend it.
I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

The Wind Leverager by Get Childish

Get Childish Large Delta Kite on Amazon

Check out my video review here

There's no doubt about it, this kite by Get Childish is the perfect one to throw together and just get out there and fly with your kids. I think the combination of convenience and simplicity makes it a winner.

Build- The body of the kite is made of sturdy nylon. This makes it mush stronger than your dollar store ones that you can poke a finger through before every getting it in the air. That also means it can hold up to higher winds and last for years instead of days. The skeleton is made of just a few resin rods. Probably not carbon fiber, but very similar. These also impressed me as its the sort of materials you don't expect to find in a cheaper kite. The included handle and string are nothing new but said string is going to hold up and not snap while still being light enough to not affect the flight. The case that the product comes in is also nylon and is a welcome addition to keep everything together. My only complaint is partially a symptom of the packaging but maybe a materials switch could fix the tail portion. Being squished in the case it never really springs back to the round shape and I think that prevents it from spinning well while in the air.

Use- Construction is a breeze. Out of the case it only needs one spar put through a loop and then both ends placed in their cups. Then tie the string on and you're ready to go. It's simple when you know how it goes together but it could use a little better instructions. Speaking of the case though, that really sets it apart because you can keep the kite in it to protect it and keep everything together. Whats important though is the flight: This is a basic kite. Don't worry about the ones you see people flying with two strings that look so complicated. With a little wind you can't go wrong. It gets right up and looks great eve high up because it's so big.

I think this is the perfect kite to keep in a vehicle when you just want to get out an do something with the kids without a little planning. The ease of (dis)assembly means you can spontaneously get out, maybe at a rest stop on a trip, throw it together, and watch the little one's eyes light up as the huge 6ft wingspan takes to the sky.

I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Companion Light S Headlamp

Companion Light S Headlamp

Check out my video review here!

The Companion Light S Headlamp is a great buy; there's really no better way to summarize it. You can tell that you can get a little rough with it and it will still be putting out light. I gave it 4 stars but it is so close to five and really is a quality product.

Build- The main casing is plastic but it feels pretty sturdy. It's got a soft touch type surface that adds a little grip in case your hands are a little dirty or slippery. The hinge that the light pivots on is sturdy and provides nice solid clicks so it won't be flopping around.The headband is a basic elastic with the company logo. Where this light stands out is that the band adds in a top strap that goes over your head. Many cheaper brands will only have the horizontal band but that leaves nothing to hold up the weight of the light so it constantly droops. No so here. Once you find the desired position it is planted. There are two buttons; one for red, one for white light. Both are a perfect size in my opinion so you can operate them with gloves but they dont protrude so much that you might bump them.

Function- As I mentioned earlier, the head band is well done. You cant use a head lamp if it doesn't stay pointed where you want it. It allows for a wide range adjustment wise from a child's head to quite a large adult one. The padding on the back of the light is sufficient for a couple hours of comfortable usage, assuming you adjust the straps for your head. Amount of light is of course important. I'd describe it as plenty for doing work at night or under a hood. It's no spotlight, but anything you're doing close it is perfect for. The flashing patterns could be great for emergencies and the dim setting is perfect for having just enough light to walk by without disturbing someone(or something).

Complaints? The only thing I would like to see is for the light to be a little smaller. It isn't huge, but that would set it apart from other lights. Including some cheap batteries wouldn't hurt so it could be used out of the box.

Bonus- The package comes with a little light in a simple rubber casing. This can be hooked on to anything like  bike or backpack and is plenty bright enough to make you seen. Can't complain about that.

I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

iFlash 3200mAh backup battery

iFlash® Ultra Slim 3200mAh Portable Power Bank Backup

Watch the Youtube review

The iFlash 3200mAh backup battery had me skeptical at first. I usually don't go for non-name brand batteries in any size and I was wondering if this one would really give me a full charge. To start out let me say that I was not disappointed in any way. The battery works great and I expect I'll use it a lot when I'm out and about.

Use- Operation is simple, charge it up with the included or any other micro-USB cable and it takes about 6 hours from fully drained to fully charged. That's about one more than the package says but it's really not that much of an inconvenience. Then, plug the internal micro-USB plug (or any USB charging cable you have) in to your device and power is instantly supplied. I got a Nexus 4 charged form completely dead with Wifi/bluetooth on plus a little for a Nexus 7. The specs claim it is nto for tablets but that's just because they tend to have bigger batteries. I was able to get the Nexus 7 from 20 to 60ish percent on a full charge which makes sense because it has about twice the capacity of a 4.

Build- The battery seems to be quite sturdy with no flex or creaking when you apply some torque to it. The case has been resistant to scratches but with that beautiful white finish even a scratch or two wouldn't show. The charging indicator is four, 25% divisions that blink while charging and stay solid when done. You can press the button next to them to get a rough idea of how full it is too. Weight wise it is probably half of a regular smartphone.

Features- A flashlight? I wouldn't have thought of including one on a backup battery but I can see how it would be pretty handy when you're already carrying the battery around. It's not as bright as a dedicated one but it's enough when you just need some light. The best part is the micro-USB plug that stows in the side of the battery. This is a genius idea that means you don't have to worry about digging through a bag for a cord. I think this should be a standard feature on all backup batteries.

I see no reason that I wouldn't recommend this battery for anyone, especially at the prices I've been seeing them for sometimes. It does what the package claims and when those claims are what you're looking for; what's not to like?
I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Friday, June 5, 2015

What I review

I've hit a slow time for reviews so it seemed like a good time to get a post out for anyone who has a product they're looking to get some visibility for. As my blogger profile says, I'm a Computer Engineer and that is a result of being a big hardware geek. From PC components to Arduinos to basically anything that blinks a light or beeps. Along with that I like to make things. Not in terms of art but functional stuff. This of course includes designing circuits but goes on to diy cnc machines, leatherworking and woodworking. On that note, I'm always looking at general tools as well as more specialized ones for the specific hobbies. My leatherworking is mostly related to firearms so any accessories for them are acceptable too. If you have something that youre not sure fits in here anywhere, feel free to contact me at and I'll let you know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blogging identity crisis

I created this blog to be able to have a little more freedom with my reviews then the quick blurbs on Amazon. The thing is, it's only useful if people read them. I set about looking for tips about growing an audience online and it seems like everything revolves around networking. See tip #4 at sociallysorted. Where does one network and build relationships? I'm not about to go plastering links all over everyone's comment sections in hope of grabbing traffic. No one would like that. Goinswriter mentions guest posting. I'd be happy to share my opinion on someone else's blog, but who's? A few places mention to discover your identity. Hey! I'm great at summarizing! Its... a... blog about.. getting out my opinion on stuff I like! Yeah, that's it! Lets go look for those blogs on Google.

And here's the wall I've so gracefully face-planted into. I can't for the life of me figure out what to search for and if I can't, who's ever going to see my results come up and/or what to say what I have to say next. There are Dad blogs, Man blogs, and Survival blogs and I'll have a subset of each of those here but marketing a little of everything is hardly an identity. It could always be narrowed down to Home Automation, or Toys but I'd almost argue my identity is that I love dabbling in a little bit of everything.

Tips? Anyone? *crickets* We'll put a pin in that one for now.

For the time being I'm going to go down the road suggested on BlogHer. Make a blog that looks the part of something that people will want to come back to. What do all the big sites have? Ads! Kind of a dirty word I agree, but I'm really not interested in monetizing anything, just getting traffic through so no annoying ads in the future. I'm thinking about going to friends with business' and asking if I can put some small linked pictures up for them. Their sponsorship of the site is just putting up with me. As michellerafter shows, it's all about the links(see what I did there? Links!)

Title logo

What's that? A new header doodle? Drew it myself and quite proud. The simpler the better.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hitachi C10FCE2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw review

Hitachi C10FCE2 10" Compound Miter saw on Amazon

I use the Hitachi 10 inch saw daily. It has performed fine for 3 years now and I've seen no reason to look at any other models yet. The thing to remember is that it has limits. Be aware of them and you'll get a lot of use out of it. I cut everything from oak for cabinets to your average 2x4 and haven't been let down.

To start out, it's not a top of the line model, but I've found it to be plenty capable for making most cuts. If you're planning to buy this just be aware of what 10" gets you. I've made cuts on stock 6" wide before but you won't get a bit further. Most of my cuts have been under this so it hasn't been a problem. The stock blade cuts as well as you would expect a factory one to but it eats up my oak a little if I'm not careful. If you're just using it on a job site you'll be able to cut studs all day long. The motor is plenty capable and I haven't yet felt it hesitate.

Build- Structurally this saw is solid. The handle, motor cover, and shield are the only plastic but I think that's pretty reasonable. The rest is very solid and has taken the moderate abuse I've given it. I have concerns about the arm that controls the blade guard as it seems flimsy and a possible failure point if it gets banged around too much. Nothing so far though. The On switch is sturdy and responsive, as well as solid adjustment knobs that do the job but aren't any more beefy than they need to be. The cord is nice and thick so it should hold up for the life of the saw too.

Features- Both bevel and miter are very usable. The miter locks to positions well and I never feel like it will move during a cut. Remember that when you swivel the head for angles you lose depth(front to back) of cut. Not much more than a 2x4 at that point. Then there is dust collection... Non-existent. There is a bag in the back but it will never fill up so you'd be best to just remove it so it's out of the way. That's where I knock a start off. I didn't get the laser model, but I've found myself wishing I had it; consider the upgrade.

PORTER-CABLE PC600JS 6 Amp Orbital Jig Saw review

Porter Cable Jigsaw on Amazon

Don't get worried about the lack of 5 stars, I'd still definitely recommend this to anyone. It's the first jigsaw I've owned but it's worked great. I get it out all the time for projects that need a special cut or something that has limited space. It's actually the first thing I think of even if there's a better tool for the specific case. It's just so versatile. Any craftsman needs a jig-saw, but I think a porter cable is the best buy.

This thing is beefy. Not is a size way, but in a quality construction sense. I'm not kidding, sometimes I'm holding it and consider using it as a mallet because it's so sturdy. There's no flex to any part of it and all controls are solid enough that I never worry about breaking them. It has a nice long cord that it pretty thick and has great strain relief at the handle so you won't be replacing a bad cable any time soon.

To start out, this isn't the sort of tool that bogs down so don't worry about breaking it with a hard material. Most of the time it cuts through things fine. I was making a secret compartment book that broke my scroll saw blade but this thing chewed through the book "Eragon" like butter. My only complaint here is that every so often, I be cutting something that I have to work to get through. I try more pressure and less but it doesn't want to bite. Mind you, I'm still on the stock blade so I'm going to try a different one soon. It may just be my blade selection.

If you're jig-saw shopping, there's really no reason to go for the high priced models. Get this and see why I like Porter-Cable products so much.

Intel Core i5-3570K Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz

Intel Core i5-3570K Processor on Amazon

This processor is a couple years old now but I've had it running with no issues for 3 years now and I see no need to upgrade. I use it in a moderate gaming rig with an OC to 4.3 no problem. It does have an larger heatsink and fan than stock but I bought it just to be safe. I've yet to have any overheating issues and this box is running in a bonus room that is impossible to keep cool.

Video cards are of course important but back when I was playing games more I regularly had Skyrim at full settings and chugged along fine. Crysis 2 was a breeze too. If you're looking for something that can take anything up to semi-heavy games but don't want to splurge on the newest hardware, this is the processor for you.

Cooler Master HAF 912 - Mid Tower Computer Case

Cooler Master HAF 912 on Amazon

I bought this case for a moderate gaming setup and I've found it to be well worth the usual 60ish price. It has tons of space and even is ready to accept liquid cooling so you can start out basic and not have to get a new case just to upgrade.

As with most cases the pales are made out of a somewhat thin steel. I think this one has the perfect gauge that makes it light enough to not be a pain but has very little flex. The main panel locks in solidly and is very easy to get in. Some other manufactures have a rail system that you have to fiddle with to get it in but this one is pretty easy. I found enough space to run cables under the motherboard mount frame just inside the right panel which kept the runs a little cleaner.

A case needs has two jobs: have space for everything and allow cooling. It has them both in aces. This is said to be a mid tower but I think of it as full size. It really does have plenty of space. As for cooling, I've never had an issue. The front is essential a giant metal mesh and the back has adequate vents as well. That's not even mentioning the ample venting on the side too. I'm running the stock fans with an aftermarket cooled quad core OC'd from 3.8 to 4.1 and OC'd GTX 650TI as well as 2 HDs and an ssd. Internal temp has stayed fine and I've found no need to add more fans.

This is a perfect case for budget builds to all out gaming rigs. I just don't see a reason to go with anything more expensive. when this has what you need.