Aug 22

Huawei Ascend Mate2 ★★★★★

Huawei Ascend Mate2 4G LTE Smart Phone – 16GB – 6.1” Screen – Quad Core – Factory Unlocked – US Warranty (Black)

I have never, ever heard of Huawei before, but what an impression it has made on me. Wow. The Huawei Ascend Mate2 is the largest smartphone I’ve ever had, maybe even the largest I’ve ever seen. I didn’t think they made them this big. It might even qualify as a small tablet.

My husband wondered who would ever want to talk on such a large phone. The truth is, I don’t talk on my phone so much as text, surf the web, and check my email . . . along with take pictures and listen to music. So how does it do? Before you find out, you’ll need to get a micro SIM card. It’s unlocked. I got one of those no contract cards (AirVoice) and it’s worked so nicely.

STORAGE

We can add a micro SD card, but it’s inside the case. I never skip a chance to add memory anywhere, so I put in a 32 GB card. It’s a cinch, but it would be more convenient if the card slot was external.

PHONE CALLS

No problem. I’ve been using it over the past week and got used to the size. Calls are clear for both parties. No one ever has to ask the other person to repeat themselves.

WEB

With a screen this big, surfing is a dream. No squinting to read the pages, no zooming to see each word. I mostly surf when connected to Wi-Fi. There’s no lag or anything. It’s all smooth sailing.

CAMERA

Photos come out clear and videos are just fine. No 360° photos and none of that dual camera business, but it has most of the basic functions people want, like photo, video, panorama.

MUSIC

The speakers are located on the back of the phone, so turn it over to use it for music. Not bad for a phone, though. I don’t need to use a Bluetooth speaker unless I want to share the music with a crowd.

OVERALL

The screen is very responsive. It doesn’t hang. Clarity is excellent. It’s a great phone, I love it. Just make sure you have big pockets.

This product was provided for review by Huawei.

Aug 22

V7 Portable Power 4400mAh Battery ★★★★☆

V7 Portable Power 4400mAh Battery – White

The V7 4400mAh Battery is an attractive little power bank. It’s lightweight and fits nicely in a purse or pocket. There’s even a little LED flashlight for those moments when I just need to have one handy.

At 4400 mAh, it gave my HTC One M8 a 74% charge. That’s okay, I didn’t expect a full charge. On the other hand, I’ve seen better. My last 4400 mAh gave my phone a 92% charge, so I was slightly disappointed. It does have a nice form factor, though, and it definitely has enough juice to keep me out of a bind.

This product was provided for review by Ingram Micro.

Aug 22

Hype® Pyramid Speaker ★★★★★

Hype® Pyramid Speaker Stainless Steel Ultra-portable Wireless Rechargeable Bluetooth 3D Stereo Speaker, Powerful Sound with Built in Microphone, for iPhone 5s 5c 5 4s, iPad 4 3 2 Retina Air Mini, iPod Touch, Samsung Galaxy s5 s4 s3, Note, Tab Pro, Blackberry, Nexus 7 10 , HTC One M8 M7 and Other Smart Cell Phones and Mp3 Players

Solid construction, if somewhat utilitarian, but my what a powerful sound. I can feel the beat, and see it, also. Those sides can thump! Up to 100 dB (I measured it myself), the Hype® Pyramid Speaker can get loud. I keep it much softer, where I can appreciate the fullness of the tones.

Bluetooth is easy to pair and it reconnects automatically. Range is not the best. I can only go about half the distance I normally get with other Bluetooth speakers, which brings me a room away.

Phone calls sound better from the Bluetooth speaker than from the caller’s end. I tried calling my son, who was using the speaker. He cut in and out like one would on speakerphone. I don’t dock much for phone functionality, because I don’t often use a Bluetooth speaker for calling anyone anyway.

Its strength is in the music . . . impressive.

This product was provided for review by DGL Group.

Aug 22

EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection ★★★★★

EarPeace HD High Fidelity Hearing Protection: Ear Plugs for Concerts & Music Professionals (Red/Brown)

When I go to a concert or other such event, I don’t want to block out all the noise, but neither do I want to lose my hearing. EarPeace HDis the perfect solution.

I tested it by turning up my speakers to 100 dB. Concerts can be a little louder than that, but this was plenty loud enough. EarPeace dampens the sound, but it did not sound distant. I was able to enjoy all the subtleties of the music.

We have the choice of medium or high protection (noise reduction rating of 11 and 14 respectively). Just so you know, they come with the medium protection filters installed. Remove and replace them with the red filters (included), if you want high protection. These are very comfortable, by the way. The only reason I know I’m wearing them is I can hear myself breathe.

I like the metal case we get to carry around our earplugs. Make sure to clean them when done, else it’s pretty gross.

This product was provided for review by EarPeace.

Aug 22

Dream Bath Gravel Knight Bath Ensemble ★★★☆☆

Dream Bath Gravel Knight Bath Ensemble 4 Piece Bathroom Accessories Set Lotion Dispenser/Toothbrush holder/Tumbler/Soap Dish

Dream Bath is a lovely bathroom set. When my husband first saw it, he declared it too fancy for our bathrooms. It has good weight with the texture of stone except, for the plastic bases.

The reason for the three stars is the bases did not hold up during shipping. The first shipment I got, the bases for the soap dispenser and the toothbrush holder had fallen off. The second shipment, the base on the soap dispenser fell off. Granted, this is fixable with some super glue, which I used. It looks great now. I just wouldn’t want to buy something new that I have to fix right out of the box.

This product was provided for review by Dream Bath Company.

Aug 22

Fekkai Full Blown Aerosol Foam Condioner ★★★☆☆

Fekkai Full Blown Aerosol Foam Condioner

Fekkai Foam Conditioner looks like mousse, but it’s not. I made the mistake of putting it on my hair after I got out of the shower only to read the directions and having to rinse this stuff out of my hair. It’s conditioner.

No matter what a conditioner is advertised to do (this one is for volume), I want it to detangle my hair. Fekkai doesn’t quite cut it. Whereas I could simply use a wet brush after using my other conditioner, with Fekkai, I also need to use my detangling comb. There are tangles everywhere.

On the plus side, it has a pleasant scent — supposed to be citrus and ginseng. It’s not sweet citrus, it’s more like the bitter peel — a bit strong, but not too shabby.

This product was provided for review by the Amazon Vine program.

Aug 22

Beef Jerky (Hot Fruit Flavored) ★★★★★

Beef Jerky (Hot Fruit Flavored)

This beef jerky comes in hot fruit flavor or regular. I like regular, but sometimes I need a kick. They’re both delicious. I don’t think it tastes fruity at all. Okay, maybe if I really think hard . . . . It’s sweet, and hot. I don’t think it burns too much. If you were my husband, you’d disagree.

I usually buy these at the local Asian market. They’re a real treat.

Aug 22

The Foods of Vietnam ★★★★★

This review will be posted January 15, 2009.

The Foods of Vietnam

by Routhier

The Foods of Vietnam is a terrific cookbook. The photos are mouth watering, and they don`t disappoint. All the recipes I’ve tried have been restaurant-quality delicious.

If you have not cooked Vietnamese food before, be prepared to go shopping for lots of ingredients. It is not uncommon to spot recipes sporting 15 ingredients or more, and you will also need to make the accompanying sauces. Depending on where you live, those ingredients may not be available in your local grocery store. You may find yourself searching for things like Chinese sausage (lap xuong), oxtails or lemon grass.

The recipes are easy to follow, albeit time consuming. I don’t have time to be cooking like that every day. For shorter, easier meals, I prefer The Vietnamese Cookbook by Diana My Tran. However, for those special occasions when I’m willing to knock myself out, this cookbook will do the trick. Patience, and I am rewarded.

Aug 22

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ★★★★★

This review was originally posted January 16, 2009.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

I grew up on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I still love it and now my daughter loves it, too. There are all sorts of fancy macaroni and cheese, but only the Kraft classic will do. It’s not too runny and not too cheesy and not too gooey. I make it “lite,” as per the directions on the side of the box, and it comes out healthier and I like it just as well.

Aug 20

Eachine Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ★★★★★

Eachine Wireless Bluetooth Speaker LED Light Touch Control Dimmable Night Lamp Mushroom Home Decoration

The Eachine Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Night Lamp reminds me of those children’s nightlights that sit on a nightstand. They can pick up in their hands and walk around with it to find their way.

The mushroom speaker works like a small night lamp. Touch the top and watch it dim or brighten. There’s enough light to not trip in the dark, but I couldn’t read with it unless it was sitting on top of my book.

It’s also a Bluetooth speaker. I paired the speaker with my HTC One M8 and it plays quite well, though the volume is restricted. My ears can tolerate a much higher volume.

There’s no mic, though. Calls have to go through the phone or not at all.

I like the form factor. I like that it can be removed from the base. Easy connection, good range. It makes a great personal speaker.

This product was provided for review by Eachine.