Oct 31

Aukey 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub Portable Multi-Port USB ★★★★☆

Aukey 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub Portable Multi-Port USB 3.0 Desktop Hub Powered for Mac, Windows, and Any PC, Aluminum Case with 12V 3A Power Adapter and 3.3ft USB 3.0 Cable

I used to rate USB hubs by how fast they were. That depends so much on the devices I attach and what my computer is doing at the time. Mostly, the USB 3.0 hubs pass the speed test. What they don’t often pass is the backwards compatibility test.

I always connect my USB 3.0 hubs to the USB 3.0 ports on my computer. Sometimes, my USB 2.0 devices will play nice, sometimes they don’t. I don’t normally mark a whole lot down if they don’t work, because they don’t work with a lot of 3.0 hubs, but I give extra credit if they do work. If all my USB 2.0 devices work on a 3.0 hub, it’s five stars. How did the Aukey 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub do? It was okay.

Logitech Universal Receiver: The receiver allows me to control my keyboard and mouse. On the Aukey USB 3.0 hub, I could control them but the mouse felt like it was nervous. Control was not tight.

Samson Q1 Microphone: Doesn’t work.

Scansnap Scanner: Success! Yay!

All my other devices – like my fingerprint scanner, flash drive, and card readers – performed just fine.

This product was provided for review by Aukey.

Oct 31

SPARK (TM) Fire Starter Paracord Bracelet ★★★★☆

SPARK (TM) Fire Starter Paracord Bracelet with Emergency Whistle Side Release Buckle – Magnesium Fire Steel – Clasp with Knife Cutter & Striker Accessories – Survival Gear Kit on your wrist – Black 550 Mil-Spec 7-Strand Parachute Cord Rope

Paracord can be used for so many things. It is ultra strong cord. Use it to hang, tow, or tie. Take it apart and make fishing line or thread. The bracelet is a convenient way to carry it, though it hangs loose on my skinny wrist. When we need the cord, we just unravel the bracelet.

SPARK (TM) is a well-constructed paracord bracelet with a twist: It comes with a cutter/striker, fire rod, and whistle.

Fire: Use the metal striker to scrape along the fire rod to make sparks. This really works, but first scrape off the coating on the rod (located in the middle of the clasp). Once the coating comes off, the sparks will happen. It’s easy.

Cutter: The striker doubles as a cutter. I cut some string to see how well it works. Doing that reminded me of the old movies where prisoners would file the bars on the cell window – same concept. It works, though slowly. Out in the middle of nowhere, this may be better than nothing.

Whistle: Pathetic. It’s not loud at all. I would not buy this for the whistle.

I like carrying survival gear in my car. Something like this is easy to store and can come in so handy, especially when we go camping. For those planning to wear it, I think it would fit men better. For me, it’s like a bangle, and it wants to fall off.

This product was provided for review by First Strike Tactical.

Oct 31

Kings Hawaiian Original Sweet Round Bread ★★★★★

Kings Hawaiian Original Sweet Round Bread, 16 Ounce

As much as I am a fan of King’s Hawaiian Rolls, I like Kings Hawaiian Original Sweet Round Bread even better. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s moist, but not too moist. It’s almost cakelike. When I buy it, the kids think it’s a real treat. My whole family loves it. We cut slices out like we would a pie and it’s gone in no time.

Oct 29

KOCASO 6”High Resolution IPS Screen, 2G/3G Phone ★★★★★

KOCASO 6”High Resolution IPS Screen, 2G/3G Phone 1GB DDR3 RAM Tablet PC

I’m beginning to wonder who needs brand when we can have generic? The KOCASO 6″ Smartphone impressed me from the moment I peered inside the box and realized I don’t need to worry about finding a case for it. It comes with everything I need:

* stylus
* case with stand
* pouch
* earphones
* micro USB cable
* USB wall adapter

CASE

I was happy to see a case included, because it’s very difficult to find cases for generic Android phones.

The case has to be installed, though. We must remove the back cover and then snap the phone into the case. The phone is stuck to the case until I take the back off. This is inconvenient, but I’ll take it.

If we don’t like the case, we can use the pouch. It’s velvet. Very nice.

PHONE CALLS

The phone is unlocked. The SIM card slots are full size and we can use one or two cards. I use an Airvoice Wireless card.

I let my son use the phone and the calls are clear between us. The problem was when I tried to call him in a noisy festival, he couldn’t hear the ring nor feel the vibration. Once I saw him, I asked him to hold the phone and we tested it. Yes the phone rang, but the ringtone is soft (we turned it all the way up), and the vibration was too weak.

BLUETOOTH

I use the Bluetooth to connect to my speaker while I shower, playing music through my Songza app. It paired easily and reconnects automatically. I never have any problems.

STREAMING

Because I don’t have a data plan, I mostly use Wi-Fi for internet access. It connects quickly, and surfing is very smooth. I can stream YouTube videos without a problem.

CAMERA

The photos and videos don’t beat my HTC One M8, but they are good enough to do what most of us do with them, which is post or email them.

PROS:

+ accessories and case included
+ large screen for watching videos
+ Bluetooth
+ unlocked phone
+ dual SIM card capable
+ clear calls
+ smooth streaming
+ front and rear cameras

CONS:

- soft ringtone, weak vibration
- install case by removing the back of the phone
- micro USB card slot is internal
- too large to fit in some pockets

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I love it! It’s a great little (ahem, large) smartphone. Color me happy.

This product was provided for review by Global Phoenix Computer T&S.

Oct 29

Discover with Dr. Cool Crystal Growing Kit, White Quartz ★★★★☆

Discover with Dr. Cool Crystal Growing Kit, White Quartz

My daughter’s teacher is a big science nut. She’s inspired my daughter, so when she saw the Discover with Dr. Cool Crystal Growing Kit, she had to have it.

Getting started requires adult help. We have to heat the water very hot. I heated it in the microwave and dissolved the packet – tried to dissolve, because it wouldn’t dissolve. I ended up placing the jar back in the microwave and zap-stir-zap-stir until it all went in.

Crystals start forming quickly after it cools. By the end of the day, they were all over the sides of the jar and on the seed we placed in the jar. After a few days, we had larger crystals. They were beautiful, like the photo on the box but much smaller. My daughter was so impressed, she kept the seed with the crystals on top.

This product was provided for review by Discover with Dr. Cool.

Oct 29

Envelop Massaging Shock Absorbtion Gel Insoles ★★★★★

Envelop Massaging Shock Absorbtion Gel Insoles (US Women’s (6 – 10))

For someone who can feel the pounding of the pavement in her knees, Envelop Gel Insoles are a great relief. I noticed a difference the moment I put them on.

The insoles are one size and we cut them down with scissors, following the guide imprinted on each insole. The guide runs large, so that I had to keep cutting until my size 8 ½ wide insoles were cut down to 7. Better too big than too small.

The insoles stay in place and provide good cushioning. Best of all, they don’t make my shoes too tight.

This product was provided for review by Health Source.

Oct 29

LED 12 Watt Dimmable A19 General Purpose Household Light Bulb ★★★★★

LED 12 Watt Dimmable A19 General Purpose Household Light Bulb, 3000K, 900 Lumens, E26 Medium Base (2 Pack)

What nice light bulbs. I placed them in my lamps (standard sockets) and they work just fine, even though they don’t have a dimmer switch.

These LED light bulbs give a soft, warm light, like the frosted bulbs of yesteryear. It’s even lighting all around, no shadows, and it’s bright enough for me to do my work in.

This product was provided for review by SleekLighting.

Oct 29

YogaAddict Men’s Yoga Short Pant ★★★★★

YogaAddict Men’s Yoga Short Pant, Light Grey

My husband wears a 34 in pants. He got large YogaAddict Yoga Shorts, and they fit him well. Mostly, he wears them for bedtime because they are comfortable.

The yoga shorts remind me of sweat shorts, but they fit long and close (not tight). I admit my husband looked a little funny wearing them, mostly because I’m not used to seeing him wear these types of shorts, but he likes them. I asked him what he thought, and he said they’re five stars.

This product was provided for review by YogaAddict.

Oct 29

Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit ★★★★★

Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit (American Girl Beforever Journey)

by Valerie Tripp

When my daughter saw the Beforever books, she had to have one. Other than American Girl, I didn’t quite know what it was about, but she did. It turns out she was right. These are wonderful books.

Full Speed Ahead is a choose your own adventure book. As a kid, I loved those types of books. I would read them over and over until I exhausted all the options. My daughter is doing the same with Full Speed Ahead.

I read through it once to get a good feel for it, and I’m impressed. No wonder she likes it. It’s not all about the gimmick. The book is well-written, not just slapped together. Reading one adventure straight through, it flows.

A girl has a camera that allows her to travel back in time to the Great Depression. Lots of tidbits about the era are woven in, as we meet a girl named Kit, whose parents are poor but do what they can to help the homeless. It’s educational, but don’t tell the kids! Even I learned a thing or two. Do you know what the kind lady symbol is?

Full Speed Ahead falls right in line with the American Girl brand – high quality, wholesome, educational fun.

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

Oct 29

Riegel Cam Washcloths ★★★★☆

Riegel Cam Washcloths, 12-Inch by 12-Inch, 24-Pack

My mother-in-law buys white washcloths to use as rags around the kitchen. They work very well that way — nice and absorbent. I did buy white rags before, but Riegel Cam Washcloths are much better. The rough texture helps scrub up sticky messes.

I thought I might use them for my daughter as her bloody nose rags, but she says they’re too rough for that. As dry rags, they are not soft to the touch.

As washcloths? I don’t know. I don’t use washcloths in the shower.

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