Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Multicolor LED mesh with 96 lights

Grab one on Amazon

We have a pergola that we like to sit in on warm nights but the little solar lights we have in there don't do much. I tried hanging these in the back an they give a nice little flair while providing decent light to see by. They have the advantage of being LEDs so you can have low power and even leave them outside all the time. The only problem is the control box; it isn't weatherproof at all so you'll need to find a way to keep it protected if you're leaving it out. Also make sure to have the mesh securely fastened to something so it doesn't blow around too much. The wires are pretty thin so if they catch on something and the wind gets a hold of it you could break something.

The multiple patterns it has are nice but you're always choosing between flashing and eye-catching or something my calm like we use. The slow fade is our favorite. Now, if you have it in a kids room as a night light they would probably take advantage of the more fun modes when friends are overAt the very least it's nice to have options.

The amount of light it gives off doesn't feel dim or under-powered but it's not nearly as bright as your average roll of LED strip. Also keep in mind that if you're looking at the pictures on the Amazon this is not nearly as long as the ones shown, just 1.5 meters. In any case it makes a fun, simple addition many places around the house be it outside, a kids room, or even a man-cave. I received this product at a discount in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Evahs Double Edge Safety Razor

Grab your own at Amazon

I'm never going back to disposable razors. This offering by Evahs has shown me what I've been missing as it looks good and works perfectly. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to shaving. I'll often go a week or two until I have enough growth that it annoys me and then take it all off. I tried using a small trimmer for a while and then a disposable for the rest but that took forever and my wife said I was too prickly when I skipped the second step. Evahs' double edge on the other hand does the entire job and it's effortless.

When it comes down to it safety razor handles can only differentiate themselves from others so much. The blades themselves are often bought separately anyway. Still, I think this one is well made and it's design works well. Materials wise it is claimed that the handle is copper and the head zinc but I haven't take a saw too it so I can just say it isn't flimsy. Everything has a good heft to it which makes the actual act of shaving effortless if done correctly.

You're supposed to let the weight of the razor do the work and it works well here. You don't have to worry about getting anything clogged between two blades because there's only the one. Because I grow out a fair bit I know you CAN clog it, but the design leaves openings under the blade so you can rinse any clog right out. Good razor design also requires a correct tolerance between the blade and the rest of the head. As it cuts well but has only left slight nicks on my skin when I was in a hurry. I have to say they nailed this too. Please forgive my huge pores, but a single pass cut as far down as possible as you can see in one of the pictures.

Assembly(loading a blade) is simple, it cuts well, and the double edge means less time between face and sink. I've been telling everyone they need to try a double edge safety razor and there's no reason not to recommend this one by Evahs specifically. Give it a try. I received this product at a discount in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones 1byone

Grab a set on Amazon

For the moment I've labeled these my "favorite" in-ear headphones that I've tried but there are still a few things I'd change. They start off nice by coming in packaging you can tell someone actually tried on. Usually a good indication that they didn't cheap out on the actual product itself.
I love the sound quality here so no complaints. I found it to be well rounded with crisp highs and nice well produced base without distortion. I didn't feel like they were much bigger than your average pair of non-wireless headphones which is surprising for having to fit the electronics and battery in there. Even the charge plug is well hidden where you have to get a fingernail under one of the end caps and pop it off. My problems with these stems from the flat cord. Up to now I thought those were the best but because everything is so light it was working against me. Even though the buds seem to have a good fit in my ear apparently they are not tight enough because today as I was working in the garage the slight grippy-ness on my neck was enough to make them stick a little. When I turned my head one of the sides would fall out. I think they need to either go back to a round cord or make it more glossy. That said the little springy pieces that fit to the contour of your ear help to hold things in otherwise without any discomfort.
Battery life wise they seemed to be decent. I charged them initially and played around with them before using them intermittently over three days of work before they were running low. This is where my other complaint comes in. The notification voice is WAY too loud. It's not so bad when powering on but when I'm listening to music at a decent volume and then it's like someone screams at me it's a little off putting and I think I jumped the first time it notified me. 

I think I'll still label these as my favorite even with them not always staying in and voice notification. To have all this in a pretty small package that looks good and sounds even better is a deal for this price point. I see no reason to pay more for bigger names when these do the job of sticking in your ear and playing wonderful sounding music. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

iClever Magnetic Bluetooth Headphones

Grab a pair from Amazon

As I've said with other headphones I've tried, quality is very hit-or-miss. A picture can make it look great and you have no reason to expect the sound to be bad. I'm glad to report that these are a great pair and I enjoy using them. Casual listener is how I'd classify myself and I can appreciate sound quality which leads me to say these are a good buy. While there's nothing too flashy about their looks or packaging they work well and I have no complaints.
Build- When it comes down to it these are pretty non-descript. They are plastic and while I like metal there's no reason to have the added weight. The body is a dark metallic blue which I find classy and unobtrusive. You get a simple 3 button combination for control and have two different sizes of ear inserts with a protrusion to make them stay in an ear better. The magnets are contained in the end so they attach to form a loop.

Function- One of the "selling features" here are the magnets in the end to hold the entire setup in a loop. This can be nice if bouncing around in a bag to keep them from tangling. Where some are using flat wires to prevent tangles they can sometimes prevent flex in the wire during use and cause them to fall out; no worries here.  Even better, if you are someone who takes the earbuds out a lot you can just attach them around you neck so they don't fall off. Operation is easy as you have three simple buttons. The power/pairing button is nice to have separate from the others so you don't have to feel around to see which buttons you're touching. Lastly there's the sound quality. I found it to be well rounded with crisp highs and nice well produced base without distortion.

I found these to be a well done product that sounds good and the magnets help do away with some of the complains I have about other earbuds. If you want to feel in the middle of your music without wires these are great. If you want to put them around your neck to talk with someone its quick and easy. Don't forget the easy-to-miss detail of the actual bud's profile that has just a small protrusion to keep them locked in your ears if you move a lot. They should certainly be contenders for your dollar if they can be had for a good price. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lock pick set and training lock

Practice on your own from Amazon

Admit it, you've always wanted to be able to pick a lock like they do in the movies. First don't do that; you'll get in trouble. Second it's never that simple but it certainly can be done. This is a great place to start. After playing with the training lock for a couple hours I was able to move to a deadbolt in our house so it must work.

Build- There are two main components: The lock and the pick set. The lock is great. The part that makes it a training one is the face that the main body is cast in transparent acrylic which exposes all the internals of a lock. I'm a firm believer that the more you can see and understand how something works the better you can be at using it. Every important part is easy to see exactly how it works with the other to make a lock. It seems to be well made too. My daughter has got a hold of it a couple times with no issues. The picks however are so-so. I like the convenience of having them all in an easy-to-contain pocket-knife type set but I can never keep the other picks I'm not using at the moment from flopping out and getting in the way. It is great however that the tension bar stores nicely in it. If you for some reason want to keep the set with you there's even a hole already drilled so you can put them on a key ring.

Function- I already had a working knowledge of how locks work so I didn't need much in a way of instructions. If you need a starting point though they do advertise an e-book that they emailed me and you will find no shortage of explanations on Youtube. In short though, you need to get all the upper/lower pin combinations lined up perfectly along the shear line of the barrel so that it can rotate. What you are doing with a pick set is taking advantage of the minute amount of slop in how everything fits together. When you get the right pin lined up the tension bar moves just a tiny amount to catch the pin on it's lip so you can find the next pin. Every lock will be a little different but eventually you'll be able to feel when you get a pin. Here though it's all right out in the open so you can see how your actions affect the lock. You get several different pick geometries to allow for different locks and different styles of use. Some may want start out just applying tension and raking the pins. I prefer the one with the round end and a little angle to it. The round allows it to bounce past things and the angle allows me to use it like a little lever and rotate it instead of lifting.

I like to try a bit of everything so it's nice to have a set like this to be able to learn basic lock picking and check it off my list. Plus, if I ever do have a lock I need to get in to(and I'm SUPPOSED to get into) I hopefully can put to use what I learned to save me from calling a locksmith. It's fun but certainly not a stretch to call it educational too. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Norskwall Slatwall Garage Organization

Cover your wall with a few sets. Grab them on Amazon

I'm sure there is someone somewhere who has a perfectly organized, Pinterest worthy, garage but if you're like me it can never have enough places to put things. Tools like rakes and shovels are long and awkward so they tend to fall over, Hanging is the best option but I tend to reorganize a lot so Norskwall has a great solution.

The slat material is all PVC which had me a little worried about strength. Once assembled though it didn't have any trouble handling the weight. Assembly was pretty straight forward and I'd recommend following the instructions. The first thing I wanted to do was slide everything together and hang it but I eventually gave up and went step by step. It went pretty quick though the side covers gave me a little trouble. The clips to hold them on need to go behind the slats after they are attached to the wall. They have a little lip so I had to stick a putty knife behind the slats to lift them a little and get the clip in. Not too much trouble for something you'll probably only do once though.

Once everything is up you just have to decide where you want to place the hangars. The best part about the Norskwall though is that there's no commitment. Hang it and see how it fits and move it if you don't like it. The hangers just sit in the channel and when you fold down the tab with the logo on it you get a satisfying good fit that doesn't wiggle around. For being made of PVC it's a well engineered system.

I've tried everything from pegboard to custom french cleats but it takes a good setup to hold some larger things. Even if you have something else I think the Norskwall would fit well in anyone's setup. My dad is already eying this one. Or, go all out and cover your wall with it. It's a little more expensive than some but it would give a clean look that lasts. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Portable Car Jump Starter Powerbank by 1byone

Grab one for yourself at Amazon

Remember when jump starters came out with batteries inside which meant you didn't have to have another car around? This is the next step and I have to say it's wonderful. Everything about it is small and light to the point where I was skeptical before I saw the first one used by a family member. Even before this one arrived I had my doubts as I figured they were hit-or-miss unless you bought a recognized brand name. No worries though, it does work great.

Build- The main battery is like any high capacity phone bank battery; just under and inch thick. I keep it in the case with the other accessories though so it doesn't need to be paper thin. The surface is a matte black finish which I prefer over glossy for something that may take a little beating in the back of a car. You get a single button to turn it on and long-press to activate the light with a simple LCD to tell you percent full and an indicator of if it's being used or charged and lastly a indicator to tell which current mode(1 or 2.1 amps). On one side you get a USB output, the jumper output and a barrel jack input. Pretty understated really. The jumper attachment is a somewhat awkward, bulky, grip-like shape which is strange to me as you don't really hold onto it during use. At the end are small alligator clips that take up little space but are are just big enough to do their job.

Function- I was going to make a video to show it really does work but as you can see on Amazon everyone's already done that. To summarize, I left my dashcam on accidentally one night and the battery was completely dead in my 3.9L V6 Mustang.. Couldn't move the started at all. What better way to test this jumper than that? No pulling my wife's car around. No running an extension cord from the garage for the wired jumper. I just popped the hood, stuck this baby on, and the car cranked right to life. It wasn't an instant full-power start but it didn't crank for more that 2 seconds which isnt' too far off my normal battery. The addition of a light is a no-brainer and will be invaluable if I ever have to jump it at night. We have used it to charge a 1/4 full Nexus 5X and it took about an hour and 30-40% of the battery's capacity after jumping the Mustang. The phone can handle more current to do it faster but 2.4A isn't bad.

I'm sure there are other jumpers out that that work but if anyone asks me for a recommendation I'd have no problem pointing them to this. It came through when I needed plus the extra features like the light and charging your phone are just icing on the cake. There's even a car charger included so you can recharge this after you've got the car started and it will be ready again next time you need it. Give it a try. I received this product free in exchange for nothing more than my honest opinion.