Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bluetooth 4.0 hands free car kit with NFC

I can't argue with anything I've seen so far. While I've noticed some people complain about ground noise I think that comes down to the car you're in and the quality of it's wiring. My experience has been nothing but positive.

Build- If I absolutely had to find something to not like, it would be that it is made of plastic and feels light. Really though there's no need for it to be heavier as the circuitry is pretty simple and a metal body would probably make it fall off your dash. You get three buttons; one for on/off and answer/hangup, and two direction ones for seeking and volume. They're big so it's easy to hit them without taking your eyes off the road. The package comes with a nice little USB car charger and an extra 3M pad. If you happen to have some metal behind your dash or are willing to take it apart to add some, there is also a magnet on the pack to simplify things. The power cord on the unit is a little thin but not so much that it will just snap.

Function- Pairing couldn't be simpler if you have a NFC enabled phone. Turn the device on by holding the power button ant tap your phone against it. After the first time it will immediately pair and you're ready to go. When not on a phone call you can use the select button to play and pause music as well. Other than that sound quality seems to be good. I even tested it by setting it on a running air conditioner and my caller could hear me fine.

This kit has good features, accessories, and just works well. I have no complaints so I think it's a good buy. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

F1S Dash Cam by Black Box

I was very impressed with the construction of this camera and it delivers on video quality as well. There isn't really a "Brand Name" for dashcams but I think this is a good benchmark to compare others too. I can't show you the full quality in my video because of file size limits but it is 1080p and looks nice.

Build- This is a very sturdy camera and I'm confident carrying it around and letting it take some bumps. If the suction mount gives out(it hasn't) and the camera falls and bounces around you shouldn't have any problems. It's a little larger than a lot of dashcams I've seen but not so large that anyone will wonder what the bowling ball hanging in your windshield is. All buttons are on the back so even when mounted in your car you can see all the functions. The 3" screen is large and plenty bright for reviewing footage even in sunlight. You get three cords: mini-usb, mini-usb charger, and gps antenna. The mini-usb plug dates this cam a bit but my only complaint comes along with the GPS antenna. It is So. Stinkin. Long. It does allow you to choose placement but I'd rather not have to go through the work of pressing another cord behind trim pieces. I recently reviewed another BlackBox camera and that one had the antenna on a 4 inch cord right on the suction mount so you never even had to think about it. I'd like if this one had that too.

Function- Video quality with this one is great. I had no trouble viewing license plate numbers once they were 35-50 ft away and that's about as good as you'll get with 1080p. The menus aren't the most straightforward but you should only need to set them once and then the camera will just turn on and off with your car(assuming your car cuts power to the outlets when it's off). You won't have to be distracted by this screen when driving at night either as it turns off after a few seconds even when recording. Just hit the ok button and it comes back and hit it again to lock the current footage. Once you have something you want you can either take the camera down and use the supplied cable to hook it up to a computer, or juts pull the memory card. The mini hdmi port allows you to hook right up to a TV as well. For viewing on a computer I recommend grabbing a piece of software called Registrator Viewer(just google it). This allows you to watch your videos right next to a live map of the location the video was taken.

I'm very impressed with this offering from BlackBox. Between the durability due to the nice construction to the great results you see in the video this one deserves all five stars. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

X1S Dash Cam by Black Box

The XS1 is a good little camera that works but isn't without it's faults. When it comes down to it once it is placed in a car and powered on it records nice video and the GPS information is a neat addition. It comes with two suction cups; one with the GPS and one without so you can choose or use it as a spare.

Build- The entirety of the camera is made of plastic. This makes it very light but I'd prefer something a little stronger as you never know where you may have it for downloading video. The body is about half an inch thick and the lens sticks out the front another inch. Speaking of the lens: for something that records such nice video I'm disappointed that the housing is made of that cheap chrome plastic. There are 5 buttons: power, menu, ok, and two directions. To attach to the mounts you just push up and slide over for a friction fit but be careful because the joint is just plastic. The included charging cable is VERY long so you can tuck it behind the cars trim and still have it reach anywhere you need. Anyone decent with wires could chop the plug off and wire it right into the car too. If you're planning to use the GPS version of mount it's really handy because the antenna is hard mounted right to it. You won't have to deal with running any cables behind bodywork.

Function- First off I have to point out the menus are somewhat confusing to use because of the minimal buttons you are working with. You'll get it with a little work though and there should be no reason for you to have to touch them after that again. This is due to the fact that once the camera detects that power is on it automatically activates and starts recording. You don't need to take it down until there's something you want to pull off the card and even then you could just pull the card itself out. The ability to set it and forget it is great. Just remember that if your car doesn't disable the plugs when it turns off you'll have to plug and unplug yourself to turn it on(or use the power button). The screen on this model always stays on and that's a big minus. If you're driving at night you don't want to be seeing it the whole time. Once you have a video you can take the card or attach the supplied micro usb cable to a computer and watch them. If you are using the GPS you can open the video in the supplied program and see location and speed on a map as the video plays. I recommend searching for a program called Registrator Viewer as it's a little nicer if not still somewhat clunky. Those aren't even the only ways to watch. If you have a mini-hdmi cable you can plug the camera right into a big screen TV and let everyone see.

This model by Black Box is a decent choice. I have a few complaints but nothing that would keep me from recommending it if you find it for the right price. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quadcopter parts by Best-World

Today I'm going to try something new and review multiple parts from a single company that can be used together to make an almost complete quadcopter. Just add your own flight controller, receiver, and battery. Let me know what you think.

All of these products are sold on Amazon by Best-World. Just click on the titles to be taken right to the product page.

My video includes several parts but you can see the assembly of throughout it. This frame is in my opinion the perfect one to use as your first 450 size quad. It combines all the elements of cost, build, and function. When starting out you just want something basic that won't eat a hole in your pocket when you crash it; and yes I mean "when". This is right at that price point. Even further because this is the most copied frame you can find replacement arms anywhere. When I've broken them before it was about 8 bucks for a replacement.

Build- The arms of this quad are quite strong with no perceptible flex. Mounting holes are quite deep so you won't be using the small screws that come with your motor. No fear: longer ones are included here. The plates are where I'm a little disappointed. they are just strong enough that they wont be breaking in flight but you can bend them in your hand. Once assembles it isn't a problem but at least 3mm of material would be nice. They are pretty long so that does allow for plenty of space to mount everything flight related inside and still have room on top.

Function- The best design feature of these frames is that they allow for the front arms to be spread out and provide a less obstructed view when flying a camera. They also have a dedicated spot for your battery that protects it from above and below. Another element that I would like to see is the bottom plate also functioning as a power distribution board. In this case you have to either provide your own or go with a spiderweb of cables.

Even with this frames shortcomings, I'd still recommend it to someone wanting to build their first quad. There are some features missing more advanced users may want but that would mean you're spending more. Give this one a shot. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

My video includes several parts but you can see the motors at the beginning and attached and running at the end. Best-world's motor selection includes a few different KV ratings. In this case I tried the 1400KV set of 4. First, having the matched set is just always convenient. You never know if a set of motors will be from a similar batch and having them packaged together give better odds of similar performance. The motors operated as expected. Each spun freely when not powered and consistently when they did have it. I took one apart and found it to have two good bearings, two set screws on top for adjustment and a c-clip on the bottom. The winding weren't perfect but so far they haven't shown issues. Every time I raised the throttle they spun up great so I have no complaints. These would be perfect for a budget setup so I'd recommend them. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

My video includes several parts but you can see the ESCs at 1:11 and being attached throughout it. There's not much to say about them. Do they make your motors spin, Good news: Yes! I bought these as a set and each one power the matched motors similarly such that I couldn't detect any difference in pitch as thins spun up. No hesitation either. One great benefit of these is the lack of low voltage cutoff. This does mean that you need to monitor your batteries some other way. The advantage though is that when your in the middle of squeezing just one more minute out, your LV cutoff won't kick in when your way up in the sky. If it does you get a paperweight falling out of the sky and no-one likes that. Features like this are up to personal preference but I'd rather not have something that can cause a crash. If you're looking to so a basic cheap build I'd say to give them a try. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

My video includes several parts but you can see the station at 6:06 where I solder wires to an XT-60 connector. This tool is the sort of thing you don't know you need until you're dropping parts and/or burning yourself. It's simple but having slots that are designed specifically for your connector means that they won't be moving at all. This product holds a bunch of different plugs so you'll get a lot of use out of it if you do varied work.

For example: I solder a lot of XT-60s and you need to have one hand for the solder and one for the iron. That means you need to find a way to steady the small part, but if you've ever put them int he jaws of a Helping Hand you know that they aren't steady at all. Any pressure pops them out or makes them move so you end up melting something or burning yourself. 

Build- The main body is solid aluminum. I like that you won't able to melt it and it has enough heft that it doesn't slide around when using it. The two thumb screws on either side are big enough to easily loosen. I found it best to adjust them just big enough that a plug could slide it snugly and then pull them in and out without having to open it all the time.

I really think it should be a little cheaper but if you're going to be soldering a lot of connectors and you have room in the budget go for it. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Simian 10 in 1 Autoloading Ratchet Screwdriver

Get it here on Amazon

Note: check out my quick video to see exactly how it works. The Simian Autoloading screw driver is perfect for someone like me who likes to have tools and accessories organized but can't ever seem to put them back in their place. This means lost bits everywhere and never being able to find a simple Phillips head. Even the ratcheting function can be useful when you wouldn't expect it.

Build- The main body is made out of plastic which might normally turn you off but it really is well designed and nothing feels flimsy; even when it's fully extended. The quick change feature, ratchet, and ratchet direction selector also inspire confidence when using them. The grip feels somewhat over-sized but that is a consequence of the fancy innards and the rubber grip ensures you won't be dropping it anyway.

Function- The driver comes with 10 bits and an extender: 3 Phillips, 2 flat-head, 2 torx and 2 square. The torx and square are contained in the handle so if you find you need them just pull one of the currently loaded ones and switch them. To switch bits normally though you just pull the handle back, spin the dial till you've selected the one you want, and push it back together. The arm that moves the bits is a magnet so they won't fall out either. The ratcheting feature had me a little skeptical. You'd think it's just as easy to keep readjusting your hand but if you're in some awkward position of situation it does help to be in constant contact with everything. If however you do find a situation that requires it to not move, you just move the ratchet selector to the middle position and it locks.

The quick change ability to have all those bits always ready really amazed me. With all this in a small well made package; I think I'll be getting more of these for small gifts. I highly recommend. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Pratico bamboo cutting board

Get the bamboo cutting board from Amazon and Pratico's website as well

My wife loves this cutting board. Is there any better reference? For those of you who need more convincing I can expound a bit. You never really realize you need a large board until you've been using one the size of a sheet of paper your whole life and suddenly graduate to an 18x12 one.

Build- This really is a large cutting board; not "inconvenient" large but quite the opposite. I think it falls right into the size that is perfect without being too large or unwieldy. It is 3/4 of an inch thick so is plenty sturdy and able to take a beating without breaking. Where many other boards may have the main surface made out of multiple pieces, this one is a solid piece of bamboo in the working area. This gives the added benefit of not being able to break along the seam right when you need it as well as just being stronger overall.

Function- While size really helps, you probably really care about how it is to cut things on it. That size though allows a generous groove around the edge to catch both drips and stray pieces from a pile of food. When half the work of cooking is clean up it really does help. There's no reason you can't use the whole surface but if you want to be sure to catch all drips you will have a 9.25"x15.25" work area. Still plenty.

I can't think of any reason this wouldn't be a good addition to any kitchen. Check out my picture of the logo and you can see through the light marks that it's soft enough that it wont be wearing down your knives but still hard enough that you're not wearing out the board right away. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

11-in-1 Credit Card Multi-tool

They say the best tool is the one you have with you. This 11-in-1 is exactly what "they", whoever they are, had in mind when they said it. Unlike some other tools that may require a pocket or a case, this one is always with you to the point that you'll probably forget about it until you need it. Everyone has a little extra space in their wallet so you'll never forget to take it with you.

I'm impressed with the simplicity really. The number of sbasic things that have been squeezed onto a single piece of steel will come in handy when you least expect it. I think I'll get the most use out of the knife and saw but the multiple sizes of wrench sizes will come in handy too. Sometimes you just need something to get a little leverage and there are plenty of little slots on this to provide it.

Should you get it? Why not? You'll never know when you need it and it really isn't that expensive. It's made out of sturdy steel so you never need to worry about it breaking. I wish the case for it was a little higher quality but it seems strong enough to provide your wallet protection from the blade while still being thin. This thing's going to be with me at all times. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Coverplug Paintable Electrical Outlet Cover

After reading check out the giveaway at the bottom!

For anyone with little kids, these are wonderful. The grow up being told to "put the square shape in the square hole" so when they're old enough to walk around the see that electrical outlets have a place to put something. While the ubiquitous plug covers can work, they just look tacky. These though can be made to blend right in with any of your other decor. Even if you don't have little ones running around though you''ll probably find these to be something worth looking into. Covering up unused plugs just makes anything look better while still leaving them functional as opposed to removing it altogether.

Build- These covers are made of pretty much the same plastic that the plug plates themselves are. They are as thin as they can be while still being plenty rigid that a bump won't crack anything. A quick coat of paint+primer stuck to it with no problems too.

Function- As long as you have a somewhat modern house where your plugs have the ground(hole between the two slots) these will work. It's as simple as painting then pressing them in. Ours was in just loose enough that you have to work a little to get it back out so it's prefect for keeping a curious child out. There's no denying they look good too. If you're the more creative type you could even go with fancy designs where they don't blend in but still fit with everything else.

My only complaint would be the lack of direction for what sort of wall plates will fit completely under these covers. If you look closely at my pictures you'll see a little peeking out at the edges. This can vary depending on what you have installed in your house so it would be nice to have some measurements included so you know if it will cover completely. Otherwise, they stay in, look great, and add safety so I recommend. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Want some Coverplugs to try yourself? Enter the giveaway below!

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

6pc Diamond Needle File Set by JawayTool

 File set on Amazon

Check out my video review here

The first thing I did on opening these files was take the triangle one to the nearest metal I had which happened to be a 9mm casing. I was really impressed with how fast it bit in and took a nice chunk out.

Build- The red part of the handle is rubber with a little give to it while the yellow is hard plastic. It works well to reduce stress on your hand while still staying rigid enough for fine work. I have larger hands so it's be nice if they were a little bigger but it does have the added advantage of compactness. The file portion is quite long with a variety of shapes so I doubt you'd ever find yourself looking for a different design. The case they come in isn't anything particularly special but it keeps them together and should be able to take some knocking around.

Function- What do you expect? They cut into pretty much anything and they do it well. Remember, this is essentially diamond dust so they are made for clean up work and less for bulk material removal. If that's what you're looking for than get them; otherwise you may want to go with a traditional file style.

It's just personal preference but I wish there were a coarser version so you could work on a material a little faster. As they are though these little files have held up well and continue to work without quickly wearing out. I see no reason for anything less that 5 stars. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fusion4K HDMI cable

Fusion 4K HDMI on Amazon

I'll get this out of the way right now: I don't think one cable is necessarily any better than most other cables out there at transmitting a 4K signal, but that's up to you to research the technical details and form an opinion. It's a little out of the scope of a review. That said, I see no reason to give this one anything but 5 stars.

Function-What's to say? I tested this HDMI cable from a PS3 to a 24" computer display and sure enough there's the picture transmitting just fine. Full video with no lag or distortion. As I said in the beginning there's debate but as HDMI is a digital signal, it either is transmitted or it isn't and 1080p displays just fine. There's no reason to believe 4K would be any different.

Build- This is where the specific specimen appeals to me the most. Everyone has had some sort of generic USB, charging, or video cord that holds up to maybe a year of use and then just stops because the miniature wires in side broke. Unless you take a knife to it, I'm of the opinion that you'd never have to replace this one. The plug casings are a very tough material that has me believing it's metal while the plugs themselves are firmly seated and attached to where I applied some leverage and saw lo flex. I love the braided cord covering too. It is the sturdiest thing I've ever seen and resists all but the most purposeful kinks. This acts as both strain relief and an aid to prevent tangling. Last of all, it just looks great. It's the sort of cord I wouldn't worry about hiding because it looks that good.

Sure, there's disagreement over whether or not a cable like this is necessary. When it really some down to it though, I think the decision to buy this should be based on what kind of quality you want. If you want the best, this is your cable. If not, I'd still recommend it. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Adhesive Cable clips by Decor54

Adhesive cable clips on amazon

No joke; as I sit here at my desk, there's a pile of cables sitting on the floor next to me. For someone who is careful with everything I do every once in a while let them scoot under the wheels of my chair and it lowers their lifespan every time. Even the proprietary Nikon USB one where I know for a fact I don't have a spare lying around. It's just the easiest place to have all of them when they are each used every day. I'm in need of an organizing tool that is quick and easy, and I think these cable clips are just the thing.

Form- You always want accessories to look good or in some cases, blend in. The clips are made of a matte black rubber that is unassuming in all environments. I'm a guy without much of a sense of style but I think these blend in well no matter the space they're in. You get 6 per package so feel free to stick them all around the house. I've got some on my desk, some on my night stand, and might put one on an end table to hold a charger that falls behind the couch.

Function- What's the goal? Hold things neatly. Do the clips perform? Certainly. They're not meant to do back-flips, just sit there ready to hold your odds and ends. They hold more than just cords. Think small tools, hair accessories, pens; and they do it anywhere and out of the way. Because they grip so well consider using them in a more permanent installation such as keeping A/V cables running just where you want them.

Materials- The main body of the clips is a sturdy rubber that is flexible enough to allow easily popping a cord in but still stiff enough that even a heavy cord won't slide out and fall.It seem like it would hold up for quite a while. The other important part is the 3M adhesive backing. It does to hold a cord tightly if the clip itself is falling all the time. Worry not: 3M has been doing the adhesive game a long time and I gave these a sturdy tug with no sign of it letting go.

I'm really considering purchasing more of these. For the price there's no reason not to stick them where ever you have some sort of cord. I can usually think of some sort of negative but the job is simple and these clips do it well. I recommend them. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.