Saturday, October 31, 2015

Snugcam Baby Monitor

Grab one for yourself on Amazon

I found this to have a fairly standard set of features for a pan/tilt ip camera. Once you figure the operation everything worked great and I can't wait to find a place for this in my house. Many commenters on Amazon have pointed out there are some things missing in the documentation and no support to help you with them, I've included a bunch of helpful information I found on my own at the bottom of this review.

Build- The camera itself is the standard size of any other pan/tilt ip camera: more than you'd want to hold in your hand but light enough that the included small wall-mount bracket can hold it without issues. It is made entirely of plastic but nothing about it is flimsy. Around the lens are 10 infrared LEDs that really light up the room, a light sensor, and a status LED that CAN be turned off. Also included is a power adapter and Ethernet cable.

Function- If you just want to get this going fast the instructions give you the direct route to use it with your phone. A quick app install and plugging the camera in to both power and your router should be good to go. Remember that you need to get into the settings and configure the wifi information before the camera can work wirelessly. The app allows you to control where the camera is pointing with swipes but I find arrows are just easier. Night vision works great and with the help of the infrared LEDs can see across a large room in complete darkness. It switches to that mode automatically once the light is to low and switches back once there is enough light.

Once you get past the lack of documentation this really is a nice camera. Pan and tilt functions are great and the night vision works so well I may have it watching my yard. Sometimes you pay upward of $100 for these features so I consider this a bargain. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.
Important setup information
-If the App can't find your camera even with it powered and connected to the router, you may need to go into the router settings and make sure a setting called upnp is on. It can't find it without that.

-Wifi will not work until you get in the settings and set it up using the wired connection

-I like to get my home automation system working with things and there certainly was a lot of documentation missing. After hitting the camera with Nmap I found port 81 was open on this camera. If you put your camera's ip address in your browser followed by :81 this will take you to the web interface(example There are a couple options here but I chose the video stream mode. From here you can find the tools menu at the bottom which opens up many more settings than can be found in the app.

-You can turn the status LED off in the PTZ settings

-You can change the time settings in here but it doesn't account for daylight savings so it will be one hour off half the year unless you switch the timezone manually

-If you just want a plain video stream use this URL: <camera ip>:81/videostream.cgi?loginuse=admin&loginpas=
or the snapshot here: <camera ip>:81/snapshot.cgi?loginuse=admin&loginpas=

I still haven't figured out the telnet login to the camera so if you find it drop me a comment.

Life-Phorm All-in-One Camera Positioning Device

Grab one on Amazon

Also! 20% Off Promo code: 9N6T4CCF Until Nov 30th 2015

Unique. It's certainly unique and you can't have a conversation about the Life-Phorm device without bringing that word up. I have to admit most of what had me interested in it was what I DIDN'T know about it. I had a few ides in mind but it does lend itself to creativity when it comes to putting it to work. This one pretty much adapts to anything.

Build- The main body is made of a strong plastic but I would like to give a word of caution: while id should hold the weight of anything it's attached to, I have to imagine any carelessness or children playing with it will crack something. That's the trade off for having something so compact. This all comes attached to a steel clamping device for holding tablets and phones. The clamp is lined with a rubbery covering that does some to grip devices but I found it to be a little too glossy for keeping a firm hold. The adhesive holding in on is also not quite strong enough as I find it sliding off the metal when too much force is put on it. Lastly the clamp is attached with a bolt coming through the bottom with a standard tripod thread. This means that you can take the clamp off completely for attaching things like camera and flashes. I even had a bluetooth speaker that could attach to it could be held out of the way. Each arm pivots horizontally as well as having two vertical pivots to allow for unlimited articulation and movement.

Function- As you can tell from my pictures I found several possible uses. I grabbed things that I wanted to place somewhere where they wouldn't normally stand up on their own and immediately could see how to make use of the Life-Phorm. From hanging flashes at an event to positioning a camera for time-lapse or remote photography you really can use it anywhere. The obvious uses though are phones and tablets. This is where I ran into some trouble. Phones are great but to allow for holding larger devices the clamp folds out and reattaches. The problem is that in it's small configuration it's just too small to fit a 7" tablet and when you make it bigger it now too big to hold it horizontally. You can of course just keep on making it bigger and hold it the tablet at the farthest apart ends. This works fine for holding in portrait mode but if you turn it horizontally the grippy rubber, as I said earlier, just doesn't hold on tight enough and things start sliding out. If this happens to you I'd recommend orienting it so that you can raise one of the legs to prevent it from sliding out. The last complaint is the folding of the clamp. Because it is just pivoted, when you're trying to clamp it on a tablet it keeps folding back and releasing tension on your device.

I really did enjoy thinking about uses for this. I would have included pictures of various helmet camera using it too but they are all currently being borrowed. This clamp needs some redesign and that's the main thing that needs work. It's not unusable by any stretch but if they did some work there it would truly be a five start product. I look forward to seeing what else it can do. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Krazilla Home Lux Bluetooth speaker

Grab one on Amazon

I've tried a few bluetooth speakers recently and while I have some favorites this is actually at the top of my list. Five stars are something I only give out to a product that I can't find anything I don't like about it but this one deserves them. It's not the best at anything but it has a combination of things that suit me perfectly.

Build- Size is an important factor with something portable and I like how this one take sup very little space. It's about the size of your average walkie-talkie and would have no trouble fitting in most pockets. Even though it's about 5 inches long you only have one speaker in it as most instances do. On top you have your 4 usual buttons: Play/answer call, up/forward down/back volume/track buttons, and your mode/paring one. Operating
them is pretty simple and honestly I usually never touch them relying instead on my phone to control the volume. In the back your'll find several things.There's a loop for attaching a lanyard to, a power switch, micro SD slot, external USB input, and micro USB for charging. I was intrigued by the removable panel you'll also notice. It turns out this unit has a removable battery which I love. If you're looking for a speaker that you plan to use a lot for extended periods you have the option of buying another $4 battery that you can swap instead of finding a place to charge. To cap off the build I got one in red and I love the bright colors that are available.

Function- It sounds great. Always remember that's relative to other bluetooth speakers. You're not going to get anything mind blowing out of it but some are better than others. I tried a couple different ones next to each other and switching one by one on my phone and I came to the conclusion that I like this one the best. It has some very clear high frequencies; not a huge feat for something small but it was better. The compliment to that of course was that it could still reproduce the lower ones. As I said earlier operation is simple but I usually just turn it on and make sure it pairs with my phone before hitting play.

I've seen some pretty fancy bluetooth speakers before costing upwards of $100 but for something meant to just be portable sound I don't know why you'd every need them. This one is moderately priced while still delivering on convenience and quality. Give it a shot. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

AYL Water-resistant Bluetooth speaker

Having used quite a few bluetooth speakers lately I have to say this is one of my favorites. It combines good sound with a nice build making it convenient to have anywhere. It's not something you'd leave sitting out as a decoration in your house but it fits in anywhere else.

Build- Waterproof? Not quite. Even the descriptions of this product start calling it "resistant" after you get past the title. Either way though, unlike a camera a waterproof speaker isn't much good as it would sound horrible under water. I did take off the speaker cover though and what I saw there satisfied me enough to say I wouldn't worry to much if this did fall in some water. The buttons are part of the case and the port cover has a decent seal. Size wise this one is a little bigger than some other offerings but still fits in your hand fine. Remember; the bigger the speaker the better it will be able to reproduce lower frequencies. It has two grilles but only one speaker so just make sure the light is facing you when it's on. Off one corner is a nice thick strap so you you're out-and-about canoeing or hiking you can keep a good grip. One bonus to this speaker is the inclusion of a standard tripod threaded mount so you can securely attach it to something.

Function- I found use to be quite simple; once I paired  my music immediately started playing. As with any small speaker you have to have the right expectations and while the bass didn't blow me away it was able to reproduce low frequencies clearly. All the buttons have a noticeable click to them so you'll always know when a command was received. One feature that I don't know if I'll ever use is the speakerphone functions but they worked fine. You can accept a call and even hold the play/pause/call button to redial the last number.

This is a bluetooth speaker that has what you need without any thing too fancy. You get the convenience of the water resistance with sound that doesn't hurt your ears like other ones I've tried. Don't forget the solid mesh bag and cables that come with it which help make sure you're always prepared. I didn't find anything I didn't like about this one so I recommend it. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Multi-Function LED Flashlight

You can grab your own from Amazon here

It's always handy to have a basic flashlight in your car for roadside repairs and alerting other traffic to issues. Don't forget about arriving at a strange location at night when you can't see; grab one of these and you're golden. After using this one for a while I have to say the best description of it is "perfectly average".

Build- I like seeing all the black surfaces made out of metal especially when I think this will live it's life in my trunk. Everything transparent is plastic and while I would like nice thick glass I can see how that would add a lot of weight. The plastic isn't noticeably flimsy but I don't think it would stand up to many hits with anything hard. The single button used to jump through the different functions is covered with soft rubber but everything seems a little mushy; not a solid reassuring click right where you expect. On the bottom is a strong magnet which opens up some possibilities when working. Lastly is the hand strap that is tied right into the base of the light. If it breaks I don't think replacing it would be very easy.

Function- There are three modes: Flashlight, Work light, and Emergency light. Let me get out of the way right now that I was disappointed with the main light. It's not very bright and lacks any sort of zoom function. Usually for a flashlight this would be the crowning jewel but the lack of focus here relegates it to something to keep in a toolbox for when you don't wan to run for anything else. The other two modes seem to be a little more useful. The work light is reasonable bright and would be passable for anything you might need to do any the side of the road. The magnet just adds to the usefulness by letting you stick it to a hood. The emergency light function could be handy as well. It won't blind passing motorists(probably a good thing) but it should be noticed at night.

These day's everyone is trying to come out with the next big thing in flashlights be it higher power, different battery options, or extra features. With this one it just comes down to excelling in anything. It check off the boxes of something handy so it has it's place but not as your go-to torch. It works, I'm just not impressed. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Red and Green Reflex Sight by Ohuhu

Grab one for yourself on Amazon

This reflex sight was a treat to try. I was excited to see what it could do and wasn't let down at all. As soon as you take it out of the box I think you'll agree.

Build-I like products that feel sturdy and can take a beating. It doesn't get any better than metal and almost the entire sight is made of it. I'm a little perplexed why the actual light cover is plastic but m not too worried; it's solid and doesn't have give. It should stand up fine. The controls have a positive feel with a solid click so you won't have anything changing on you during use. Everything, even the reticle knob with protruding arm, is placed in such a way that it won't catch on anything when moving. Lastly you have a simple rubber cover that can slide over the glass to keep it scratch free.

Features- For being such a budget sight I was surprised at what they packed in there. It's nothing mind-blowing; just a nice set of features that will hold up to use. You of course have windage and elevation adjustment but that's a bare minimum requirement. The ability to choose different reticles means this sight can suit whatever tastes you have. By far my favorite feature though is the choice between red and green, as well as a brightness setting. Red is best for low light settings and because you can adjust intensity you're able to pick something that you can see but won't necessarily give you away. Using it in daylight? Flip to green and crank the intensity and you'll see it no problem. Don't let my pictures fool you either; these were taken very close. Once you have it mounted at somewhere around arms length the image fills the glass. Just optical magic.

Function- As I stated above the features that allow options provide a wide range of use-able situations Once you have your setting picked you'll find that the reticle is always in focus no matter what you're aiming at. I have limited experience with other reflex sights so I was impressed with the optical trickery that makes it appear to stay on target even as you move your head.

I'm sure there are fancier options out there but if you're looking for a bargain I'd say this is the one to use. The combination of price and features means that if for some reason you do decide to upgrade int he future you'll still want to keep this one around. It will hold it's value. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bluetooth OBDII reader by Shoppers Smart

Grab one from Amazon here

It works. Bah, I know you want more information, but there is only so much you can say about an OBDII reader. If you haven't seen these bluetooth ones before I highly recommend picking one up as an impulse purchase. Gone are the days of paying to get the error codes scanned on your car. I know some places will scan them for free but as everyone has a smartphone these days there's no reason to even leave the house.
Just plug the vice into your OBDII port and turn the car on. This will power it up and allow your phone to find it. Tell it to pair and put the pairing code in(1234 in this case) and you're good to go. At this point the data is being sent to your phone but you'll need an app that knows what to do with it. I personal use(and think the best one is) the Torque app but there are others.

It's not only for error codes though. These can aid in troubleshooting the problems themselves. Every car is a little different but any data that is put out by your car can be read and displayed. That means you don't only have to use these for business; fun is an option too. Where some people may pick expensive gauges to mount in various locations; you can just open the app and display lots of information right on the screen. If for instance you use the Torque app you can customize multiple screens and swipe between them.  

A tip for you: I have a Nexus 7 that I put in a cheap case super-glued magnets on. After gluing magnets to the inside of the center of my dash I can pop it there any time and read the data this reader is sending. While there are many hit-or-miss clones of these devices out there I found this one to work just fine. The screenshot from my phone is while it was showing data pulled from this very reader. Looks like these are good ones. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.