Reviews of lots of very cool products!

Archive for June, 2015

Weight Gurus Digital Bathroom Scale


Get this great product here: Weight Gurus Digital Bathroom Scale

 

Ok, I’ll admit it, I could really stand to lose a few pounds.  Like many, many others out there, it’s hard though to keep the motivation going to keep active and eat right.  I was excited therefore to order this Weight Gurus Digital Bathroom Scale, hoping that it would help me stay a bit more on track with my fitness goals.  This scale is extremely easy to get set up right out of the box.  The instructions are extremely clearly written, which is a big plus (so many products nowadays have instruction manuals that leave me scratching my head!).  There is a peel off plastic piece right on the scale that showed me where to go to download the app that goes with the Weight Gurus scale.  I was easily able to install the Android app and get it started.  There is a small plastic tab to pull on the back of the scale (nice since that way I know that the battery isn’t half run down by the time it gets to me), then it’s ready to go.

IMG_20150627_202617265

I just have to tap the scale with my foot to turn it on.  The first time I use it, I can set my “user number”, since the app can track multiple users, but for now I’m just doing it for myself (my husband hasn’t yet joined the smartphone era).  Then as with any scale I step on and wait a few seconds and it displays my weight in easy to read large numbers with a bright blue backlight.  Then it changes to a pixelated image on the screen – this is what interacts with the app.  Rather than connect to my phone via Bluetooth, I just tap a button in the app and “scan” this image on the scale, and the phone imports the weight with a time stamp.  It’s much like scanning a QR code.  I like this since I don’t always keep Bluetooth turned on on my phone to save battery life, although I suppose with the Bluetooth it would be easier to use this for both me and my husband, since the scale would save the info until I could be near it with my phone.

IMG_20150627_202600471

The first time I launched the app it asked me for basic info like my first name and gender and gave the option of entering a goal weight.  I did enter a goal that I’d like to reach, so now it shows my progress towards that goal with a graph and showing what percentage of the amount towards the goal I’ve achieved.  I’m hoping that this visual reminder of my progress will help to motivate me to do a bit better fitness wise.
I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Advertisements

Beach Toy Set in Reusable Zippered Bag by Prextex

Get this great product here: Beach Toy Set in Reusable Zippered Bag by Prextex

My kids absolutely playing at the beach and sand toys are an absolute must for any day at the shore. My 4 year old especially could literally spend hours digging and exploring in the sand, so I was really excited to try out these Prextex beach toys. First of all, as a Mom I love that the entire set comes with its own reusable zippered case. The handles are really useful to help with transportation and the fact that it is clear makes it easy to make sure that all the toys are accounted for!

IMG_20150626_232620810

From when I first opened the case it was clear that these are really nice quality. The plastic on all the pieces is thick and sturdy – not like some flimsy little beach toys we’ve had over the years that break or bend with gentle use. There is so much in this set, so let me just go through each piece.

IMG_20150626_232144854

First there are animal shaped sand molds: What a cute collection of 5 colorful animals molds (turtle, dinosaur, rabbit, crocodile, and alligator)! I like all the little details in the designs (the lines on the turtle’s back, scales on the croc, etc.) that all come out really nicely if you press wet sand into them and then unmold the sand. I know from experience that this can be a bit frustrating for young kids – it’s tough at first to figure out how wet the sand needs to be to get all the details, but still be able to unmold easily, but with a few tries it comes out great!

IMG_20150626_232328984-1 IMG_20150626_232258400

Any time playing in the sun needs tools to help scoop and dig, so there is a small shovel and rake which are a good size for small hands. These are just as sturdily made as all the other pieces. I like that the “teeth” on the rake are curved downwards so that it really digs into the sand well, and also can be used to leave cool looking patterns in the sand! There is also an adorable little watering can which is fun for the kids and actually useful to help get sand to the right level of wetness for molding and sculpting.

IMG_20150626_232043556 IMG_20150626_232226216

Then what time playing in the sand is complete without a sand castle? There is a small castle mold that would be cute to put on top of a larger structure and a neat mold that almost looks like the Taj Mahal – very different! Then it is so clever that the bucket part does *triple* duty here as first a bucket, second a really awesome castle block mold (love the details on the bricks and the little door with steps!), and last (but definitely not least!) there is a really unique sifter top that snaps onto the castle bucket to help separate sand from all the fun treasures that kids love to find at the beach!
IMG_20150626_232419705

 This would be a fantastic set just with all these toys, but in addition there is also a mesh drawstring bag to use at the beach. It’s made out of a stretchy nylon mesh with holes large enough that at the end of the day, we can load in some of our extra beach supplies and give it some good shakes, and most of the excess sand will just fall through the holes in the mesh so that we don’t have to transport home the whole beach! At 17” by 15” the bag is not going to hold our family’s full beach supplies, but it’s a nice size for one of my kids to use for their extra clothes and a towel.

I’m very glad that I was able to receive this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Samson MediaOne BT3 Active Studio Monitor Speakers with Bluetooth


Get this great product here: Samson MediaOne BT3 Active Studio Monitor Speakers with Bluetooth

I was really excited to try out these Samson MediaOne BT3 Active Studio Monitors with Bluetooth and they have totally lived up to my expectations and then some. The built in speakers in my laptop of course are not the highest of quality and I figured these would be great for when I want to play music or watch movies through my computer to give a nicer audio experience. From the moment I took these out of the box and saw how sturdily made they were, I figured the quality was going to be what I was hoping for, and I was definitely right. They are extremely easy to get set up. In the box are the two speakers, an AC power cord, and speaker wire. The speaker wire connects the two speakers together, using the standard wire clip type plugs on the back of each unit. The power cord is plenty long to run behind a piece of furniture.

There are a few options to connect the speakers to a computer, TV, or mobile device – there are RCA inputs on the back of the right speaker as well as a headphone and audio out jacks on the front. In addition, the really cool thing is that these speakers can use Bluetooth. There is a small button on the back of the right speaker labeled “pair” with the Bluetooth symbol next to it. All I had to do was turn on Bluetooth on my laptop and press that button and almost instantly my laptop recognized that there was a new device available and paired. A light flashed on the front of the speaker to show that the pairing was successful. That’s it – now the speakers are handling all the audio for my computer.

I immediately opened up my iTunes library and chose a classic rock song with complex instrumentation. When I hit play I was so impressed with how good it sounds! As my husband said, “These will really fill up a room!”. There is a great balance of bass and treble from the onboard woofers and tweeters. The volume dial on the front of the right speaker easily controls the level of sound – even at the middle of the dial the volume is fairly loud.

All in all these are a really fantastic quality set of speakers and I know we’ll be getting a lot of use out of them in our house.

I’m very glad that I was able to receive this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Falcon Zero F170 Full-HD Wide Angle Dashcam

Get this great product here: Falcon Zero F170 Full-HD Wide Angle Dashcam

IMG_20150627_234545386

Dashcams seem to be all the rage now, so I was so excited to try out this Falcon Zero full HD dashcam.  I’m not planning to be in any high speed chases anytime soon, but I figure there are lots of everyday uses that it could be really useful for.  When I first opened up the package I was really impressed with how nice the camera and its accessories are.  It’s clear that the manufacturer really put attention into lots of little details.  For example, the USB charging cable that is included is VERY long (10 ft) so it can be clipped up to run around the edge of your car instead of hanging down over the dashboard where it can be a vision obstruction.  There is also a separate GPS sensor which plugs into the dashcam (and which also has a fairly long cable) – I love that in addition to recording audio and video this can record my position throughout a drive.

IMG_20150627_234208114

The display on the camera itself is easy to ready and navigate.  If you want to navigate through the menus on the software interface, there are options to change such as how long it continues recording after I turn off the car and how long each video clip segment is in the recording.  However, it also works beautifully straight out of the box, without taking the time to look through the options and menus.  The one thing I would recommend setting right away is the date and time, so that the videos you take are correctly timestamped.

IMG_20150627_234501166

The Falcon Zero dashcam comes with directions of how to download software for either PC or Mac to review the recorded videos.  I have a Mac laptop and am really impressed with the software.  I was afraid at first there would be one huge video clip that I had to look through the whole thing, but it is great the way that it is broken down into 3 minute segments.  All I have to do is scan my cursor over the clips and it shows the video moving as I scan, so it is easy to identify a segment of interest.  The video quality is excellent – definitely the full HD 1080 p that is advertised.

While this dashcam works great in my car, it also can be used for home use if desired.  All that is needed is a standard USB/AC charging adapter.  I have several of those at home and realized when I first received the camera that this might be the perfect solution to a problem we were having.  Just a few days prior, we started finding cat poop right next to our basement litter box and my husband and I couldn’t tell which our three cats was doing this.  Luckily the litter boxes are right next to the sliding glass door in our basement, so I used the suction cup mount to attach the dashcam to the window glass, plugged the USB cord into an AC adapter, aimed it down towards the litter boxes, and went to sleep for the night.  The next morning, there was indeed a poop where we didn’t want it, so we went to the camera!  I find for whatever reason that if I plug the dashcam directly via USB into my computer, my laptop doesn’t recognize that there is a device with files, but if I remove the micro SD card and put it in a card reader, it works perfectly.  Then I just opened up the Falcon Zero software.  The interface shows a grid of video clips, each 3 minutes long, and we just scanned the cursor over the video clips until we found the critical moment.  Indeed we were able to identify the culprit feline and take her into the vet to see if we could figure out what was going on.

This overall is a very high quality product with high quality bundled software – what a great package!

I’m very glad that I was able to order this at a promotional discount in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

AGPtek Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter


Get this great product here:  AGPtek Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM TransmitterIMG_20150625_120822133_HDR Having an older car (a 2004 Toyota Corolla), I wish that I had the now-standard feature of a direct input jack so that I could listen to audio from my phone and take phone calls directly through my car stereo, so I was excited to order this Bluetooth FM Transmitter by AGPtek. The product itself seems to be sturdily made and I like that the instructions are well written and easy to follow. It was quick and easy to pair the transmitter via Bluetooth with my Android smartphone. The front panel clearly displays the 6 different choices of FM frequencies to use to transmit the audio through to my car stereo (87.5, 89.0, 90.5, 104.8, and 107.5). At first I was afraid that this was going to be a problem for me. First of all, my Corolla’s factory car stereo is able to tune into specific FM frequencies that end in an odd number after the decimal point. I therefore can’t tune directly to 89.0 or 104.8. If I go one tenth down (88.9 or 104.7) I get a bit of the signal from the transmitter, but there are also radio stations that interfere at these frequencies – they don’t come in totally clear, but are strong enough to cause issues. Also the lowest FM frequency that my car stereo will tune to is 87.7, so it is impossible for me to even try the 87.5 option! That leaves me with 90.5 and 107.5 as my best options. Unfortunately in my area there is a station on the dial at 107.5, so this one doesn’t work at all. I was concerned that 90.5 would also be a no go, because it does get a tiny bit of a static-y signal, but luckily the localized signal from the FM transmitter is enough to override this! Once the transmitter was plugged in and paired with my phone at 90.5, my stereo gave total silence until I start something up to make noise on my phone, so I figured I was finally going in the right direction!

IMG_20150625_120816914

If I open my up the music player app on my phone, I can now play my digital music directly through the car stereo, which is really handy. My favorite use of this, however, is for hand free phone calls. I can call my husband if I run into bad traffic on the way home from work and be confident that it’s safe to do so while I’m driving! The sound quality on both ends is great – his voice comes through clearly on the car stereo and he says he can hear me quite clearly as well. The tall button on the transmitter can be used to answer phones with a single push, and a double push automatically redials the last called number, which is a very handy feature.

It’s also really nice that there is a USB port on the side of the “stick” portion of the FM transmitter. This isn’t even mentioned in the instructions, but I think this is an excellent feature, because it means that even though the AC port is being used in the car, I can plug something else in to charge (like my phone) via a USB cord.

All in all this seems like a well designed and very useful product, although I would suggest that potential customers check the 6 frequencies first in their car radio to see which of them they can tune into without getting a strong radio signal.

I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Morning Magic by Giles Smith


Get this product here: Morning Magic by Giles Smith

IMG_20150624_182321579

When I saw this book on Amazon, I thought it would be perfect for my 7 year old daughter, who loves anything “silly” and love to read, although is still working on the basics of phonics to read more efficiently on her own.  Morning Magic is about a little girl witch Emily and all the trials she faces as she rushes to get dressed for magic school in the morning.  The full color illustrations are very cute and engaging, with Paul the frog starring in the mayhem.  While I think the book and story are cute and decently written, it is not my daughter’s favorite book and I can see why.  While the story nicely describes the frustrations Emily is going through and how she tries to look up the proper spell to use to release her clothes from her dresser, it would have be fun if the actual spell (and her mistaken early attempts at saying it) were included in the story, rather than just stating that she said a complicated spell.  While I understand that the focus of the story is on getting ready in the morning, a bit more of a glimpse into Emily’s magic school would have also helped to engage my daughter, rather than the text ending with her leaving her home.  While the diction is not overly complicated, this is not an early level “easy reader” – there were a number of words that my daughter was able to read and recognize, but also many where I had to step in for her. I suspect the level would be about right for most 2nd graders to read on their own.  Also be aware that there is a tiny bit of British/Australian slang, so American audiences may have to explain a few terms to their kids, but I mostly see this as a good learning opportunity.

IMG_20150624_182353385-1

I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.

Velocity Bikes Balance Bike

Get this product here: Velocity Bikes Balance Bike

I’ve been hearing a lot over the last couple years about balance bikes and how beneficial they can be for kids to learn the basics of riding a bike, but haven’t had a chance for my kids to use one, so I was really excited to try out this Velocity Bike balance bike. I have the red version, which is a nice bright color. The metal frame is very sturdily made and the EVA polymer tires seem quite strong and it’s nice that I don’t have to worry about inflating traditional rubber tires.

IMG_20150620_120340547

I have to mention that the instructions for assembly were not at all clear, and the small allen wrench that was supposed to be included according to the parts list was not in my package. The instructions said I would have to install the washers and clamps on to the metal tubes, but in reality they were already in place, so that was a bit confusing. The instructions also never said that I should install the metal main body of the bike onto the front wheel *before* putting on the clamp and the handlebars – slightly important! The clamps took me a while to figure out. The first time I tried them, I could not get them to even slightly tighten at all. Then I kept playing around with it, rotating them around and eventually they got to a point where the clamps actually does a great job of keeping both the handlebars and seat at the desired height.

IMG_20150620_115127716

Neither my 4 year old son or 7 year old daughter have yet fully mastered a bike without training wheels, so I think this could be a great tool to help them focus on balance and steering without needing to peddle. We took this to the local schoolyard one weekend to give it an initial try, figuring the blacktop would have a nice large flat area to practice. My 7 year old really got the hang of it quickly and was zooming around the blacktop in no time, although we didn’t really have a downhill for her to fully try out gliding. There is a spot on the back of the bike that can act as a foot rest for gliding, which is nice for more “advanced” users who have really gotten the hang of the balance aspect. My 4 year old was enjoying it too, but was having a harder time with keeping his balance fully, which is to be expected since he hasn’t had a lot of experience with a bike that doesn’t have training wheels in place. I think this is good for him – with his personality he sometimes needs to be forced to work out something new and this gives a good push to work on balance and steering without being helped out by training wheels (or a trike) and not having to worry about pedaling at the same time.

So overall, once it was all put together it is working great! I still feel that I have to take away one star due to the high level of frustration I felt in figuring out how to get it properly assembled. With that said, it is now very sturdy and I think that with continued use it will help both of my kids to increase their balance skills!

I’m very glad that I was able to order this as a free promotional sample in order to evaluate and provide my honest review.